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Academics Take On Government Net Censorship

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the it's-always-a-basement-lab dept.

Censorship 274

Anonymous Brave Guy writes "There's an interesting article from the BBC today about a group of academics at the University of Toronto who are working to investigate and break down government-imposed censorship of the Internet. Are they defending human rights, or simply trying to impose their own beliefs on people from other cultures? Incidentally, one of their people was responsible for the previous Slashdot discussion of 'five fundamental problems with open source'."

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fr1st pr0st (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897102)

1st
gnaa

Re:fr1st pr0st (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897118)

woohoo! i did it.. now how do i join GNAA

Re:fr1st pr0st (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897170)

watch Gay Niggers from Outer Space, then join #GNAA on irc.gnaa.us

Freenet? (0)

rqqrtnb (753156) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897112)

Why haven't I seen any comments about using Freenet [freenetproject.org] for this yet? Where's Ian hiding today?

Re:Freenet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897262)

You probably haven't seen any comments because Freenet sucks ass. Click a link, wait literally five minutes, only to find RNF. Then, if you're really lucky, you'll get a DNF instead of an RNF about one time out of a hundred. Praise the Lord! I think after leaving my node for a day and periodically trying, I finally got one of the freesites off the proxy's page to load (with none of the images loading, of course).

Meanwhile, Freenet is using in upwards of 200MB of RAM and a constant 50kB/s of bandwidth which I'm sure the ISP would be pleased with. Oh, but wait, there's an option to throttle bandwidth usage. Then you get RNFs 100% of the time instead of 99% of the time. Sweet!

Way to go, Ian.

internet censorship (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897113)

the more you try and control it the more behind your back methods will be created.

Is there a difference? (5, Insightful)

hanssprudel (323035) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897120)

Are they defending human rights, or simply trying to impose their own beliefs on people from other cultures?

Is there really a difference between the two? Fundamentally, the acknowledgement of "human rights" is a system of belief, born out of our culture. Certainly there have been plenty of cultures which have not accepted any of the principles which we want to "defend" today.

On some level, the concept of "human rights" is a claim that our cultural beliefs are better, and more right, then those that do not agree with them.

Since there is no absolute source of right and wrong in the universe, our own beliefs are the best we've got. And there are certain things that we believe so strongly, that we are willing to impose them on others. What gives us the right to do this? That we are stronger. Nothing else.

We ought to see this for what it is, and stop feeling bad about it.

Re:Is there a difference? (4, Insightful)

Alphanos (596595) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897155)

Since there is no absolute source of right and wrong in the universe, our own beliefs are the best we've got.

Interestingly, your statement disproves itself. There must be a standard of objective absolute truth, because if there was not, then it would be objectively, absolutely true that objective truth does not exist, which is a contradiction. Therefore there exists at least some truth that is objective (ie. true in all places, at all times, for all people). Whether or not human rights are one of the objective truths is a separate matter.

Re:Is there a difference? (2, Interesting)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897240)

If something cannot exists, it must exists because it cannot exists?...

I fail to follow your logic, care to elaborate?

Re:Is there a difference? (3, Insightful)

Dr Tall (685787) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897273)

I think he's talking about absolute statements. Such as, "It is impossible to prove anything" which cannot be proven true, because for it to be true, you must have proved something.

Or, take this true or false question.
T/F: This statement is false.

Re:Is there a difference? (4, Insightful)

Rhesus Piece (764852) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897271)

Ah. I think there is a difference in words here. He seems to be using "right" and "wrong" to mean "morally correct" and "morally incorrect". You seem to be interpreting them to mean "objectively correct" and "objectively incorrect". By your interpretation of the words, yes a contradiction. By his, however, all seems well by my logic checker dealie.

Re:Is there a difference? (1)

hanssprudel (323035) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897399)

I was talking about moral right and wrong, not logical. I dont think anybody is arguing that net censorship is logically wrong (hard, maybe, but obviously theoretically possible).

Re:Is there a difference? (4, Insightful)

heironymouscoward (683461) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897187)

Actually, there is a fairly universal concept of "right" and "wrong" with respect to human society. Human culture is not infinitely plastic. It is a product, invariably, of a standard human nature.

All cultures have similar kinds of internal conflicts, and the most classic one is between the individual and the "state", or the larger group.

And all states go through phases where they try to assert more control over the individual than is healthy. An extreme case would be North Korea. Such excessive control is so uneconomical that we eventually get a balance of power in which the state provides individuals with liberty in return for taxes and basic obedience.

When we seek to "impose our standards" on other states, all we're doing is saying: "hey, it's pointless to kill your dissidents and hang your thieves, pointless to ban women from education and turn religion into a tool of mind control..." We say this because we've been through it, and know that it's bad stuff.

Re:Is there a difference? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897209)

Actually, there is a fairly universal concept of "right" and "wrong" with respect to human society.

Try telling that to liberals. Destruction of marriage, shapping society into their whims, legalizing drug, loose morals and individualism over the benefit of the majority.

There is right and wrong, but not with respect to "human" society, as some societies seem to just set out to get it wrong from the start

Mod Censorship (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897350)

Flamebait, whatever, you know I'm right.

Stupidest ./ comment I have read all week (3, Insightful)

Sanity (1431) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897197)

On some level, the concept of "human rights" is a claim that our cultural beliefs are better, and more right, then those that do not agree with them.
What a wonderful justification for oppression: People want to be oppressed! Lets see you explain that to the family of one of the Chinese students who died in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Every sane person, regardless of their culture, wants the right to express their own opinions and to exercise control over their own lives. Yours is just a pathetic excuse for the complicity our governments have in the oppression of those in other countries.

Just seems to be an excuse (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897217)

The denial of "human rights" by the parent of your item seems to come across as an excuse to say that oppressive governments that deny rights are quite acceptible: it is "culturally OK".

Re:Stupidest ./ comment I have read all week (2, Interesting)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897232)

What a wonderful justification for oppression...
...And your post is a wonderful example of how slashdotters like to misrepresent the people they're arguing with. I'd bet ten to one that the parent poster believes in human rights.

Re:What Sla$hdot DOESNT want you know (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897141)

You are risking bringing the wrath of the Linux jihadists down on you. You are indeed brave.

If this were groklaw, your post would already be deleted.

What Slashdot already told us (0, Offtopic)

Jane_Dozey (759010) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897184)

http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/02/21/142239 &mode=thread&tid=122&tid=126&tid=172&tid=179&tid=1 85&tid=190

Do your homework

Re:What Slashdot already told us (1)

Jane_Dozey (759010) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897204)

Wow, that sounds really out of context now the parent was modded down.

In other news... (4, Funny)

wiresquire (457486) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897128)

And in other news today, the Government announced that funding for the University of Toronto had been cut by 50%. A source that would not be identified believes that this is reliation for an effort by academics to reduce censorship of the internet.

An official spokesman at the Education Department could not be reached for comment.

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897165)

And in other news today, the Government announced that funding for the University of Toronto had been cut by 50%.

Too bad the U.S. government doesn't fund the University of Toronto.

Re:In other news... (1)

kungfuBreaks (537144) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897257)

Actually, the parent referred to "the Government" and not "the US government".
Like all Canadian universities, UofT is a public institution, so the Canadian government certainly does fund it.

net ninjas eh? (0, Offtopic)

Sv-Manowar (772313) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897129)

i wonder what they call the government agents who these "net ninjas" are fighting against?

They are not imposing values (5, Insightful)

Tango42 (662363) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897130)

"Are they defending human rights, or simply trying to impose their own beliefs on people from other cultures?" Censorship is imposing your values on others, stopping censorship is not. Stopping people hiding information does not force them to have your values.

Reap what you Sow (0, Flamebait)

rqqrtnb (753156) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897142)

So what ?!?!
Their Govt CENSORS stuff

THEY ARE THE PEOPLE THAT PUT THE GOVERMENT IN POWER !!!

THEY HAVE THE OPTION TO CHANGE THINGS !!!!

Why dont they ? Because they value security MORE than Freedom. Why the hell should I feel bad about some Marxist regimes censorship ? If THEY cared so much en-masse THEY would do something about it. THEY obviously dont care , why should I ?

Re:Reap what you Sow (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897190)

THEY HAVE THE OPTION TO CHANGE THINGS !!!!

Tell that to the North Koreans who are horribly tortured for speaking out, or even being merely accused of speaking out.

Tell that to the Chinese students who wanted more freedom and met up with an army of tanks!

You sir are an idiot.

Re:Reap what you Sow (-1, Troll)

rqqrtnb (753156) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897213)

When I say "Change things" I mean with a club and a gun.

The point I was trying to make Is WHY THE FUCK SHOULD I CARE ?

The Chinese people PUT their Goverment in Power PERIOD, whatever happens as a result of that is their fault. So WHY , give me 1 REASON , WHY Should I care in the least about censorship in China ?

Re:Reap what you Sow (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897260)

Are you slow or something?

Not everyone in China wants what they have or had a hand in it. The same with the former Soviet Union (don't like it? Off to the gulag with you sir!).

Of course, you seem not to care about the pains people go through, the horrifc punishments for dissent, and the desire that people have to be free. You are a sad person.

Re:Reap what you Sow (1)

nkh (750837) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897403)

The Chinese people PUT their Goverment in Power PERIOD
Are you sure OUR governments have really done nothing to help those dictatures?

WHY Should I care in the least about censorship in China ?
Because it will come to our countries sooner than we may think!

Re:Reap what you Sow (5, Funny)

BCoates (512464) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897216)

Fascinating. I suppose you think you live in a country with free speech due to some sort of virtue on your part? Perhaps you have managed to overthrow a dictatorial government and replace it with a liberal one yourself?

the preserving culture argument (5, Insightful)

tuxette (731067) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897134)

"Saudi Arabia says explicitly that they censor the internet to preserve their Islamic culture and heritage, which is a pretty valid claim to make," explained the lab's Graeme Bunton.

I disagree. If what Saudi citizens find out about other places via the Internet causes them to reject their Islamic culture and heritage, then perhaps it's a culture and heritage not worth preserving in the first place.

There are plenty of countries that are online, for the most part uncensored, and are able to maintain their culture. Next lame attempt at an argument, please?

Re:the preserving culture argument (1)

SmackCrackandPot (641205) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897214)

I disagree. If what Saudi citizens find out about other places via the Internet causes them to reject their Islamic culture and heritage, then perhaps it's a culture and heritage not worth preserving in the first place.

In this case, having a country run by a ruling royal family may not be very democratic, but it's probably better than having an anti-western fundamentalist state.

Re:the preserving culture argument (3, Funny)

BCoates (512464) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897268)

Er, except right now they're a anti-western fundamentalist state run by a ruling royal family.

Re:the preserving culture argument (2, Insightful)

Spellbinder (615834) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897381)

i would call it a anti-western fundamentalist state run by pro-western a ruling royal family.

Re:the preserving culture argument (1)

themusicgod1 (241799) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897347)

In defense of islam
At my job I see the 12-14 year old crowd who universally use MSN and who's parents think that MSN IS the totality that is referred to as 'internet chat'(and vice versa), and I wonder that perhaps, there are things worth perserving although to the unindoctrinated they may seem uninteresting. Sure, linux has MSN clients. but for how long? How long until it is illegal under the DMCA, or worse law, to write a MSN 'chat' client? and then how long after that until the youth of, for example, the united states all have been brainwashed by Microsoft commercials that internet chat IS MSN?, and that no other kind of internet chat is internet chat, and worth using? Granted, MSN may be a particularily useful program, but don't you think the reason it's popualrity might be because it comes by default on every computer that you can buy, and every computer that you will probably use, growing up?
Or you could go with a relatively standard protocol with free clients like say, IRC, or *gasp* email. or whatever the next generation will come up with.

Re:the preserving culture argument (1)

moviepig.com (745183) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897356)

"Saudi Arabia says explicitly that they censor the internet to preserve their Islamic culture and heritage, which is a pretty valid claim to make," explained the lab's Graeme Bunton.

"Preservation of culture" is the province of museums, and cultural terrariums like Colonial Williamsburg.

Moreover, it's anathema to a living, evolving society. (This is true even in the good ol' USA, as with Wal-Mart vs. Smallville.) You can't legislate nostalgia.

Canadian TV censorship (4, Insightful)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897136)

University of Toronto? Interesting, considering the "Canadian Content"-based censorship laws in Canada, where foreign stations are banned (censored) due to lack of "Canadian Content".

Re:Canadian TV censorship (4, Interesting)

bigberk (547360) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897189)

Are you kidding me? I live in Canada and all I see is American content -- radio stations are full of American music, television is all American shows, and the products we buy are all American. Where's the censorship? It's obviously not working.

Re:Canadian TV censorship (2, Informative)

nodwick (716348) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897220)

Are you kidding me? I live in Canada and all I see is American content -- radio stations are full of American music, television is all American shows, and the products we buy are all American. Where's the censorship? It's obviously not working.
Despite living in Canada, you're apparently not aware that the law requires that 35% of popular music selections broadcast by commercial AM and FM radio stations each broadcast week must be Canadian selections" [crtc.gc.ca] . American TV cable stations are permitted, but satellite TV is not for similar reasons.

Re:Canadian TV censorship (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897357)

perhaps you should define what you mean by censorship. is there non-canadian content that cannot be played because of this regulation? no.

Re:Canadian TV censorship (5, Insightful)

THotze (5028) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897279)

Actually, there _is_ a minimum Canadian content. You might not notice it because the line between Canadian and American content is sometimes intentionally blurred. I can't speak with great authory on the TV side, because I have no experience, but I do know something of the Canadian Content laws for radio, as I've helped a friend organize songs for a show on a local university radio station here (Carleton University's CKCU). 30% of all music played, by song, on a radio station must be Canadian - meaning, Canadian artist. I _believe_ that Canadian TV laws require principle Canadian actors, or writers, or producers, but I'm not 100% sure on that.

The idea is that because the Canadian music industry is smaller, and its harder for Canadian artists to tour, etc. and reach the same fame as foreign (read: US) ones, they need to be protected, because if Canadians artists aren't supported in Canada, they're less likely to be supported anywhere.

The result, however, is that lots of Canadian "filler" artists end up popping up - they're pop music that sounds like all other pop music, but it's CANADIAN filler. Other times, artists that make it in the US are WAAAY overplayed here (think, Avirl Lavigne, ALL THE TIME.) And, on occaison, there is a good Canadian artist/group that for some reason, can't seem to get a international record deal but does well in Canada.

Personally, I think that if Canada really wants to support its artists, they should do it willingly - that is, there'll be a demand for Canadian music. Perhaps TV/radio stations should make a voluntary industry pact, where stations can agree to Canadian content terms, and if they do, they can display a logo or something on their ads. If Canadians really care, they'll support the stations that have the logo; if not, then Canadian arists will have to prove themselves on the same terms as ones everywhere else, even if there is a bit of discrimination.

Tim

Re:Canadian TV censorship (1)

Stu Catz (728228) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897201)

what stations are banned, im watching cnn on right now, i hardly ever see anything from canada, i have no idea what you are talking about

Banned channels (2, Interesting)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897243)

what stations are banned, im watching cnn on right now

The most popular US news channel is banned in Canada. I'm pretty sure that SciFi channel is also banned; there are others.

Re:Canadian TV censorship (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897207)

Why would we want to watch ads for products that aren't available in our country?

It's not the ads, it's the shows (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897229)

Why would we want to watch ads for products that aren't available in our country? It's not the ads, it's the shows. Ask anyone near the border tho uses address tricks to get United States satellite TV programming to see the channels censored off the Canadian satellite feeds.

Re:Canadian TV censorship (4, Informative)

themusicgod1 (241799) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897241)

University of Toronto [utoronto.ca] != Canadian Government [parl.gc.ca]

The University itself may have its own problems with censorship [littlegreenfootballs.com] , but at least get the organization right.

Re:Canadian TV censorship (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897272)

I never said that the college was part of the government; it does not matter in an argument pointing out a major content-censorship problem in the country.

Re:Canadian TV censorship (1)

themusicgod1 (241799) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897378)

fair enough. We can only, then hope, that they turn their inspection of censorship onto themselves, and their nation.

although that might make it a little more challanging than they will be willing to accept.

Re:Canadian TV censorship (1)

antiMStroll (664213) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897248)

Foreign stations are banned here? Well that finally explains the mile-high Gauss screen along the border from Pacific to Atlantic. And here I thought it had something to do with bird migration.

No gauss needed (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897297)

No gauss needed, all you have to have is laws and companies harassing you for daring to receive that evil "foreign" content.

Re:Canadian TV censorship - Part of the reason (2, Informative)

Craig Nagy (605528) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897447)

IIRC, it's more than just a "Canadian content" thing. In Canada there are laws restricting the manner in which corporations can advertise to children. (i.e. no using some super-duper character to sell cereal). Not such a bad idea considering children are so easily influenced.

Being on the largest undefended border makes controlling all those dang signals (tv/radio) a little difficult.

peekabooty? (1)

fatmoe2004 (772335) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897137)

Why is there no mention of peekabooty? it seems like a really good project

Re:peekabooty? (1)

Jane_Dozey (759010) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897196)

Or the 6/4 project.

American technology is helping repress the Chinese (5, Interesting)

rqqrtnb (753156) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897138)

When I worked at GTE the company got the contract to lay the fiber optic cable around the border of China and put in the network centers that setup a ring around China. Total control of all the traffic in and out of the country, or so they hoped. A career limiting move came when I wrote Chuck Lee, CEO of GTE, and said we were helping the same Communist government that gave us Tianamen Square and would continue to repress the Chinese people using this technology. But Bean Counters only care about profit and damn the people that get get screwed over in the process.

As a side note, I knew a lad working near me from China who had been at Tianamen Square the day before and then the day after the massacre happened. When he saw what the army had done to their own people he went home, packed and left for Hong Kong and then to the US.

Censorship is only one way the Communists will use to stay in power and shooting another bunch of college kids can happen again.

Re:American technology is helping repress the Chin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897238)

Censorship is only one way the Communists will use to stay in power and shooting another bunch of college kids can happen again.

Sheesh. Communists staying in power. Shooting college kids. I didn't know how conflicted I was about censorship until I read your post.

Different cultural standards... (4, Insightful)

heironymouscoward (683461) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897149)

... are real of course.

What is not real is the suggestion that human liberty and freedom is culturally dependent. That is a lie used by repressive governments to justify policies that really only serve their own interests.

There have been many attempts in Western nations to repress individual rights because of the "common interest", and these rightly strike us as barbaric. No reason to apply different standards to other countries just because they are different.

However... the day I see an electorate in a "culturally different" country freely and democratically vote for a regime that restricts human rights, I'll change my mind.

I guess that means... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897206)

...that you haven't visited the United States [commondreams.org] .

you won't find out anything at commondreams.org (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897333)

Commondreams.org is not a source of news about anything. It is a far-left fascist rant site.

Re:you won't find out anything at commondreams.org (1)

macdaddy357 (582412) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897452)

Far-left fascist? That is a contradiction. Fascism is a right wing form of extemism. Time for someone to go back to school.

Show me a free by western standards Islamic nation (1)

ShatteredDream (636520) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897225)

You won't find one because Islam is a horribly repressive religion. You want to talk women's rights in Islam? Talk about the **absence** of them. Being forced to dress head to toe in a rag because a man might get horny seeing their face is common in many countries. Honor killings of women who have been raped. Polygamy. Whatever freedom an Islamic society extends to men it doesn't to women. Not even basic rights like being able to choose what they want to wear in many countries.

You couldn't be more wrong if you tried by saying that culture doesn't determine whether freedom can be present. Cultural attitudes directly affect how one sees oneself in relation to one's fellow citizens.

Re:Different cultural standards... (1)

Jane_Dozey (759010) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897236)

"There have been many attempts in Western nations to repress individual rights because of the "common interest", and these rightly strike us as barbaric."

Actually, they do. It's just most people don't notice them very much. I'm willing to bet that all Western nations have laws that repress induvidual rights because of the "common interest". Its just that most of the people living in those nations don't know about it and wouldn't do a whole lot about it even if they did.

Re:Different cultural standards... (4, Insightful)

BCoates (512464) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897246)

However... the day I see an electorate in a "culturally different" country freely and democratically vote for a regime that restricts human rights, I'll change my mind.
People do that all the time. Restricting the other guy's rights is one of the more popular political themes of the world--Both in the West and in the "Culturally Different" places. Democracy is useful, but it's not a magic wand that makes authoritarianism disappear.

Re:Different cultural standards... (1)

Spellbinder (615834) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897406)

look at russia right now

Face value... (4, Funny)

Faust7 (314817) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897159)

"Citizens can't just accept technology at face value."

*looks at Windows-loaded PCs on Best Buy shelf*

Ohhhhh yes they can.

The only thing worse than a do-nothing academic (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897163)

Are these self-appointed vigilante academics. I would rather fight publicly abroad (and at home) to limit governments ability to censor. Petty vandalism is so easy to repair, and puts burdens on ISP who are not the real problem. And I wonder if there will be a liberal bias to their fight. Will gay's rights be seen as noble as gun rights? Free trade as equal of airing as anti-globalism?

Misguided (4, Insightful)

JayBlalock (635935) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897188)

"Saudi Arabia says explicitly that they censor the internet to preserve their Islamic culture and heritage, which is a pretty valid claim to make," explained the lab's Graeme Bunton.

No it's not. If Islam was a dying thing, like say the aboriginal cultures in Australia, then perhaps there would be an argument there. But religions are always passing converts back and forth. At the moment, IIRC, Islam has some of the highest conversion rates TO it. Which means "Islamic culture" is really in very little danger of going away, and there's no need to "preserve" it.

Plus, cultures are evolving things. American, Chinese, Islamic, whoever. Compare the governments in the Middle East around 1500 to what we have today. You could easily make the arguement that getting rid of the Princes and opening the country up is REALLY preserving Islamic Culture. (preserving it from the corrupt clerics, of course) It's all just a front for cynical politicians to control their populations in the name of God. As far as I'm concerned, the Chinese have more moral justification, since they're just operating under the "It's my party..." defense.

(disclaimer: respects all religions, disrespects all hypocrits)

Re:Misguided (2, Insightful)

Thanatopsis (29786) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897313)

Compare the governments in the Middle East around 1500 to what is in the Middle East today. Why they are EXACTLY the same! Corrupt kings running countries like their personal fiefdoms.

Re:Misguided (2, Insightful)

JayBlalock (635935) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897360)

Please go read a book on the societies of Europe and the Middle East circa 1500 before posting again.

Thank you.

Europe and Middle East circa 1500 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897387)

"Please go read a book on the societies of Europe and the Middle East circa 1500 before posting again."

I did. The old middle-ages Islamic empire was a savage and brutal place. Europe was even worse. What the parent said was pretty much correct.

Re:Misguided (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897343)

Right. The real reason for this is that Islam the Religion and Islam the Culture are two different things.

The religion of Islam, AFAIK (I'm not expert and I'm not Islamic), does not dictate all the things that those Islamic country do to their people (most notably, the women). That is the result of male dominated power structures over the years. Many of the traditional aspects of Islamic culture are things that they have done for a very, very long time. However, this Islamic culture is kind of old fashioned (like you said) and really needs to be updated, because it does not integrate well with the rest of the world (Primarily the U.S.).

However, this does not mean the religion of Islam will die. This religion is actually a really cool idea (from what I've heard, I've never even read a book about it). It's a very peaceful religion. It's just when people twist it to their own purposes that we get bad things which happen, and cultures which are ass-backward.

Islam not peaceful (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897408)

" This religion is actually a really cool idea (from what I've heard, I've never even read a book about it). It's a very peaceful religion"

No, it is one of the most warlike religions. It was created by a warlord, did you know that? The creator of it was a man who committed what we call "ethnic cleansing". He was one of those figures like Atilla the Hun or Alexander the Great (do read sometime about his bloody conquest). The only difference is that Muhammad created a religion to help justify his rampage.

"It's just when people twist it to their own purposes that we get bad things which happen, and cultures which are ass-backward."

People like Muhammad, who is one of those really horrific figures in human history?

Re:Misguided (2, Insightful)

THotze (5028) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897373)

I'm always kind of irked by the "protecting culture and heritage" argument. You could argue that hertiage is heritage, good, bad or ugly, and nothing in the future can change that, but the more important word is "culture."

I don't think that most people really think of what any given culture is and has been historically. Culture has ALWAYS spread, mingled, and intermixed, more or less to the extent that any given era's technology allows it to. How else is the Spanish word for money - "dinero", so similar to "dinar," a common name for currency in the Middle East?

Take another example. What could be a more solidly cultural experience than food? Then ever wonder why Italian food has generous portions of noodles, an idea they got from China, and tomatoes, native only to the Americas?

Sure, the Italians CHANGED the way they're prepared, and they mixed the two in a way that only they, at the time, could think of. But that proves my point.... a more recent example is Japan. Japan's economy and culture have undergone EXTREME westernization in the past 100 years, and 50 years especially. Now in Japan they have western style dress, and music, etc., but they've also put a Japanese "spin" on it.

Cultures aren't these unique little things that exist in isolation - cultures are made to mix, spread, mingle, and combine in the way that the people in the cultures see fit. And don't forget that cultural values help determine what cultures "see fit" to mix.

Tim

Impose on other cultures? Bullshit (0)

ShatteredDream (636520) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897192)

It is time that the post-modernist critique of morality come to an end. This ridiculous idea that there can be any real morality in a world where there is absolutely no accepted notion of universal right and wrong can be blamed for a lot of the world's problems today. Let's take a look.

As secularists succeed in attempting to decouple capitalism from its original protestant moral underpinning you get Enrons and Tycos, companies with no sense of duty and obligation to anyone except whoever is currently trying to pillage them. Many years ago, business executives took pride in their companies and you'd have been hard pressed to find them doing that.

This idea that there is no universal right and wrong is precisely why we have things like "genocide" in this world. While most "genocides" are nothing more than mass killings, not wholesale exterminations, they can happen with impunity because when countries intervene they care about "cultural sensitivies" rather than seeking genuine justice from a standard of transcendant morality.

Another problem with the "everybody's morality is equal because it's an opinion and nothing more" argument is that from that point you cannot condemn what you think is evil. Want to condemn someone as a NAZI, guess what you (typically leftist) fuck? You can't because whether anything you say is morally wrong is just your opinion. In mine, it can be the holiest of holy things to "be a NAZI" by your definition of NAZI (ironically most don't even know what NAZIs actually believed; never read one sentence of the Munich Manifesto).

You can draw your transcendant morality from a secular source or a religion. However if you continue to not insist that there is a universal standard you are part of the problem. When a group pulls another Rwanda with the backing of a major nation (like France did in 1994) what would be your retort to them saying "it's our culture, don't get involved?" If you believe no morality is universal than you're a hypocrite if you don't concede their point.

Re:Impose on other cultures? Bullshit (2, Insightful)

mabu (178417) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897253)

There is a universal morality. It's called, "The Golden Rule" and it has existed in every culture and philosophy. Everything beyond that enters the realm of manipulation with less-than-honorable intent.

I look at the issue of censorship and morality, and their various catalysts such as "cultural identity", "security" and "happiness" as a farce.

This reminds me of a true story. I have a dog. My neighbor has a dog. The difference between our pets is that I let my dog out. I make sure the dog is aware of the danger of the traffic on the street and I've taken care to make sure she understands the dynamics of her world. The neighbors on the other hand, never let their dog out his fenced-in yard. They don't walk him around the area; they "protect" the dog from the street by keeping him sheltered.

About a week ago the dog got out of the yard and was hit by a car and killed.

There is no security when you shelter people from the real world.

Re:Impose on other cultures? Bullshit (2, Insightful)

Thanatopsis (29786) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897295)

Corporations have never been particularly moral social strucutures. Since they largely exist to de-couple personal responsibility and liabilty. The primary purpose of a corporation is to protect the shareholders and the people running from mistakes, errors in judgement and grevious wrong doing. The idea of secularism has bankrupted the moral component of corporations is silly. Corporations have always existed to protect people from taking responsibility for unethical decisons. I suggest you read the history of the East India Company for a really good example of this.

Re:Impose on other cultures? Bullshit (1)

themusicgod1 (241799) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897310)

Au contraire, if there were no 'right' or 'wrong' most if not all of the past and current genocides taking place today could never happen - they all have social-political-religious significance.

Take for example, your example of the nazi's and their horrible destruction of the jews(despite breaking godwins law). The nazis who were involved with this did so with a purpose: to rid the world of jews. This is, in their eyes the 'right' thing to do. Bush is so obvious in his doing the right thing that he's going to kill tens if not hundreds of millions of people towards this goal(Doing the Right Thing).

No, this does not mean future genocides under secularism would not happen. And no, I'm not going to offer a solution to your problem (the enrons, genocides) but not thinking critically about the problem solves nothing. Genocides would have happened, provided the means to do so, anyway, without secularism(spanish inquisition much?).

Also, I'm not sure if businesses have ever been as rosy as you paint them. Feel welcome to prove me wrong, but business 100, and 200 years ago was much, much more harsh to its workers than they are these days. And you can thank Unions for that. While we are slowly slipping back, we still have a good deal going for us. Due to minnimum wage laws in my country i only work for a third of minnimum wage. without this minnimum wage I'd probably be making practically nothing. Communism made a good deal of sense in the climate the communist manifesto was written in, due to the mass-scale exploitation of the working class.

By the way, I am prophet themusicgod1, and I judge. What makes me a judge? That I say I am, nothing more, nothing less. I am, I exist, and I judge that I am, I exist, and a great deal of other things, including everything in this post. I could very well be wrong, and both of us know it.

Re:Impose on other cultures? Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897385)

can i join your cult?

Re:Impose on other cultures? Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897462)

It's a social problem. While there are no objective truths, people should sense social truths of their society. If they couldn't feel social moral laws, it's a deep problem in how their society communicates with them and let's them feel as a responsible and valued part of the society. Corporate nationalism is a revealing monument of how the cooperation among citizens is simplified to customer relationships or to strictly limited professional team working.
<br><br> ... How do you like my English? :)

Ask RMS... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897200)

Are they defending human rights, or simply trying to impose their own beliefs on people from other cultures?

from (5, Informative)

themusicgod1 (241799) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897205)

What I understand, freedom of expression is guaranteed in the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights [un.org]
"Article 19
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression ; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of fronteirs."
[emphasis added]. So if there is any nation that is not a part of the United Nations, sure, imposing these restrictions on the freedom of the government of these nations would be imposing their own beliefs on these other cultures. This does not sound like what these people are doing, however. There is no excuse whatsoever for government censorship by any government who is a member of the United Nations(this means you, China [computeruser.com] , United States of America [thememoryhole.org] , and Canada [sasktel.com] ).

Sure, one may argue that the United Nations may be unnecessary, outdated, completely irrelevent [zmag.org] or otherwise, but as it stands today, we are obligated to fufil our part of the bargain, despite how sometimes we may disagree with it, or alternatively, decline membership to the United Nations and become a Rogue State, with none of the protections to you that The Declaration provides.

These guys sound down-right nuts, though. If a dictator is willing to kill thousands of his own people, what makes you think they won't assasinate you, if you actively mess with them? Kudos to their efforts.

More bullshit. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897261)

Try again. That same document explicitly deprives individuals of their civil rights if they disagree with the UN. Unlike the US constitution, of which that document is a bowldlerized, twisted, self-serving mockery.

Re:More bullshit. (1)

themusicgod1 (241799) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897428)

and your country agreed to it, which means you are bound by it. period.

Re:from (1)

BCoates (512464) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897312)

How is The Memory Hole an example of censorship? It looks to me like the exact opposite.

come on. (1)

themusicgod1 (241799) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897392)

Do you really expect an awnser this question?

You will be assimilated (4, Insightful)

Toxygen (738180) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897218)

Seriously, is it any surprise to anyone here that the government is involved in social engineering programs? They've always used any form necessary/available to bend our thinking into what they want their population to be, and as soon as the next far-reaching information/media service becomes available you can bet they'll be using that too.

Resistance is futile.

call me a cynical pri*k (1)

max privus (772334) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897228)

but whenever you mix political activists, social "scientists" and artists, you can virtually ensure that nothing's going to get done. Also, does anyone else find it a tad hypocritical for Canadian academics to be pursuing this effort. Canada is the most repressive developed nation in the world, from the perspective of free speech. Their citizens haven't legal access to foreign media sources, and they're subject to some of the most onerous speech restriction in the western world. -You'll notice that none of citizenlabs efforts are directed towards liberating their own people.

Re:call me a cynical pri*k (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897334)

Please enlighten us. Please enumerate *1* example of speech restriction.

If foreign media sources is CNN and al-Jazeera. It's here.

hate speech (1)

themusicgod1 (241799) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897444)

nt

Exactly what censorship... (1)

ControlFreal (661231) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897291)

...are you talking about? http://www.freenetproject.org

"trying to impose their own beliefs on people" (4, Insightful)

wytcld (179112) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897327)

Let's say we have this little thing called "science" that enables us to approach real truth - not just culturally-relative beliefs about something we call "true." Let's say with science we begin to have an informed vision about how people can live better than the beliefs of their local culture would allow. For instance, we can teach them how to dig latrines instead of shitting upstream of their water supply. We can also teach them how their local leaders are lying to them about what's true, in the scientific sense, when they persist in foisting culturally-relative beliefs about, say, the supposed inherent inferiority of women (perhaps they are the variety of Muslims who justify this with a claim that women "don't have souls").

If you are a post-modern simpleton, who believes that everything is constituted by belief, that one belief is as well-founded as another (because none are founded at all except in social practice), and that suffering from ignorance should be the accepted plight of children born into particularly ignorant and anti-scientific cultures ... well, please get out of the way while those of us who know the power of science to actually discover and share real, useful, even salvational facts about the world give those children the chance to benefit from these truths, and perhaps - if those facts are about ways to establish human liberty and not just about how to build munitions - even encourage them to make their cultures less dangerous to our own.

Because the only other alternative is to wipe out the ignorant, religious savages as they get better at coming after us to enforce their own anti-scientific, anti-human (as we know it) belief sets. And as much satisfaction as some of us might take in battles fairly won against truly evil (because ignorant) populations, surely the satisfaction is sweeter if we can transform them to something approaching civilization (even as we are only approaching civilization, and have not reached it yet - witness the Bush anti-science agenda).

Re:"trying to impose their own beliefs on people" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897401)

when they persist in foisting culturally-relative beliefs about, say, the supposed inherent inferiority of women
Uhh equality among the sexes is an entirely social construct. We believe it because it seems like a good thing to us, not because it's true. Any biologist or psychiatrist should be able to tell you that women and men are unequal on a plethora of attributes.

If you are a post-modern simpleton, who believes that everything is constituted by belief ... well, please get out of the way while those of us who know the power of science to actually discover and share real, useful, even salvational facts
Again, science has nothing to do with beliefs. We could, for arguments sake, know absolutely everything about everything, scientifically, but equality of the sexes would not follow logically from that.

I agree that our beliefs are better than theirs, but to attempt to argue that our beliefs are based in science is dishonesty or stupidity of the highest order.

Oh please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8897342)

... like academics don't practice censorship.

Anyone in the academy who dissents from the accepted viewpoint is instantly becomes persona non grata.

Another non-story.

speak for yourself (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897351)

They're imposing their beliefs in human rights on "other" cultures. More power to them!

most people in the world are against censorship (1)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897366)

"Saudi Arabia says explicitly that they censor the internet to preserve their Islamic culture and heritage, which is a pretty valid claim to make,"

Im not an expert but i know that allot of laws that are said to be part of a religion are infact not and leaders have twisted and bent ideals and laws under the guise of religion and that goes for all countries everywhere including the USA. Saudi Arabian law (apparently) also says its ok to beat your wife to within an inch of her life because thats part of islamic law and im pretty sure that its not part of the religion, in other countries its the law to cover your head with a scarf or burka and i know (correct me if im wrong) that the koran does not say that, as for censorship i think thats not in there either, im giving islamic examples because of the quote but i know there are many other examples in other countries where law and what people actually believe in are not the same.

Frankly if someone tries to access a website (and the web is a pull-medium not a push/broadcast-medium) then they have pretty much said "i want to see this", unless its a pop-up or advert that they didnt ask for, but thats the risk you take when your on the net. if an entire country decides that it does not want to see certain things from outside fair-do's, but then really they should have themselves an intranet, not an internet because there is no such thing as 100% effective filtering - you wanna try filtering even 'winzipped' traffic? you wanna try filtering traffic with even the most basic low-tech stenography or encryption? on a country-wide basis? get real.

As for my country (UK) i think i speak for everyone when i say "dont even fucking think about censoring the net! - you can stop pedophiles but thats as far as it goes, period"

Re:most people in the world are against censorship (2, Insightful)

Loosewire (628916) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897412)

As for my country (UK) i think i speak for everyone when i say "dont even fucking think about censoring the net! - you can stop pedophiles but thats as far as it goes, period"
once its peadophiles it has begun and it will only get worse - not defending them at all but go after people who access the stuff not block access to it (seems like the best policy) censoring even one site is a first step on a slippery slope

to quote anime... (2, Insightful)

l33t-gu3lph1t3 (567059) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897375)

"Human beings are composed of two divergent forces. Homeostasis and Transistatis. Homeostasis is a force to maintain the current situation, and transistasis is the force of change. We're consantly fighting an internal battle with change." (ok, not an exact quote, but I get the idea don't I?)

To quote some other famous philosopher, "the only constant in the universe is change". Cultures, religions trying to resist change are fighting a losing battle. Now, it's granted that certain things are more likely to change than others, but that's up to the people who believe in them. Humans, like every other organism on this earth, are constantly evolving, adapting, changing to match their environment.

With this in mind, it's counter-intuitive to try to be static, resist change. Especially when the only method you have to resist change is to deny it, ignore it, and even prohibit it. Censuring the internet is simple evidence of this: Governments in countries like Cuba, China, Saudi Arabia, etc, wish to "preserve" their existence by denying the existence of other ideas. From the beginning they should have known it was a losing battle.

The trend towards enlightenment through education seems to be unstoppable.Sure you have occasional hiccups (like the dark ages) but in the end, "change is the only constant" and those who oppose change, or the possibility of change that knowledge brings, are fighting a losing battle, and they know it.

Why? (3, Insightful)

Quixote (154172) | more than 10 years ago | (#8897442)

I don't understand why the Saudi (and other Islamic) governments are so worried about this "interweb" harming their culture.

1. Islam is the fastest growing religion on this planet [beconvinced.com] , so why worry about the Internet?
2. Muslims live and thrive in countries with open access to the Internet (like US, Canada, India); if they are just fine with it, what's wrong with Saudi citizens having open access to the Internet?

This censorship by the Saudis wouldn't have anything to do with trying to preserve the royal family's hold on power now, would it? Naaahh.. I didn't think so.. ;-)

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