1984 is now

on Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." — Benjamin Franklin, 1775

"Every American depends—directly or indirectly—on our system of information networks. They are increasingly the backbone of our economy and our infrastructure; our national security and our personal well-being. But it’s no secret that terrorists could use our computer networks to deal us a crippling blow. We know that cyber-espionage and common crime is already on the rise. And yet while countries like China have been quick to recognize this change, for the last eight years we have been dragging our feet." --Obama

Tomorrow morning, the European Union directive goes into force which will require all internet activity, emails, visits to websites and internet phone calls to be collected and retained by the government. This is the first step in the centralized database at the heart of the Intercept Modernisation Programme.

Simon Davies, director of Privacy International, said: "I don't think people are aware of the implications of this move. It means that everything we do online or on the phone will be known to the authorities. They are using this to produce probably the world's most comprehensive surveillance system.”

China is ranked "Not Free" in "Freedom on the Net" -- an assessment of internet and mobile phone freedom in 15 countries. China ties with Cuba for the country with the most curbs on users' rights, including prosecutions for online activities, surveillance and harassment of bloggers.

An Empirical Analysis of Internet Filtering in China was recently completed by Harvard Law School. The authors itemized the specific types of content found blocked in China. For example:

Dissident/democracy sites.
Blocked sites includes sites about democracy and human rights generally and sites specific to China.

Blocked sites included sites about health generally and about health in China specifically.. results for "hunger china," "famine china," "AIDS china," "sex china," "disease china."

Blocked sites included a number of well-known institutions of higher education…

The BBC News was consistently unreachable, while CNN, Time Magazine, PBS, the Miami Herald, and the Philadelphia Inquirer were also often unavailable…certain new filtering technologies allow blocking only of the particular sections and articles that are particularly controversial in China.

Government sites.
Blocked sites included a variety of sites operated by governments in Asia and beyond. As discussed below, government sites of Taiwan and Tibet were targeted specifically. ..

Blocked sites included… a total of 1,763 sites in Yahoo's categories and subcategories pertaining to religion.