Mark Pesce on Internet filtering

Photograph of Mark Pesce

My new friend Mark Pesce (pictured) has written Blacklisted: Breaking Senator Conroy’s net censorship for the ABC.

The Web is the ultimate “greased pig” for the world’s governments — they can chase it, and perhaps briefly gain a handhold, but they’re always tossed on their posterior a few moments later. You would think that this lesson would have sunk in — after all the Web has been with us, part of our daily lives, for almost fifteen years. But no: there’s always a bureaucrat, somewhere, who claims: “This time, it’ll work. Really!”

Mark also quotes Wang Guoqing, which I hadn’t gotten around to doing yet:

Last May, Wang Guoqing, Vice Minister of the State Council of Information, the man who oversees the Great Firewall of China, was quoted as saying: “It has been repeatedly proved that information blocking is like walking into a dead end.” In essence, Wang was declaring the failure of the Chinese attempts to filter the Internet; the Chinese are now moving toward a policy, which reminds Chinese netizens that the state is watching them — and that they should surf the web appropriately.

Social pressure (with the threat of criminal prosecution) is taking over from a failed technical strategy. So Conroy is quite correct; Australia isn’t going down the Chinese road — because China has already backed out of this dead end.

A superb piece tying together pretty much all of the threads we’ve been discussing, and much more. Read and enjoy.