Archive for censorship

Amazon Web Services

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2021 by andelino

We are all used to Amazon delivering packages to our doors and mailboxes. But did you know that Amazon also delivers virtually every filmed video in the United States to your screen?

According to an article at the American Prospect, Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides service to 32 percent of the Internet. However, the dominance of AWS expands further when examining digital video delivery in the United States.

“AWS is the back-end provider for Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Paramount+, Peacock, HBO Max, Discovery+, and of course, Amazon Prime. As of February of this year, that list includes the top six streaming services in the U.S. by subscribers; Discovery+, which is not on that list, is merging with HBO Max, and Paramount+ didn’t launch until March. Just from those top six, 558.8 million U.S. subscribers rely on AWS to get their streaming video. Yes, this is more people than live in the United States; that’s because, as you doubtless know, many people subscribe to more than one streaming service.”

Over 550 million streaming accounts in the U.S. are run by AWS. In addition, every major movie studio (Disney, Universal, Warner Bros., and Paramount) stream their new releases on services run by AWS. Even movie theaters receive their new releases via a cloud, which is run by, you guessed it, AWS.

Not only is movie distribution relying on Amazon Web Services for distribution and digital infrastructure, but over 1,600 television channels utilize AWS. That includes Fox, Viacom, CBS and the Discovery families of networks.

“If you are watching a filmed piece of entertainment on any screen at a theater, at home or on your phone through a digital direct-to-customer stream, on a television network, or on a streaming service, the odds are extremely likely that you’re making use of AWS.”

No matter which service you choose to use, Amazon has some amount of control in having it delivered to your screen: They have a phantom monopoly on the filmed media industry in the United States. This phantom monopoly should concern us all because Amazon has a track record of censoring content that does not align with its political agenda. Amazon has barely flexed its censorship muscles but has already shown what power it holds.

The most significant censorship by Amazon was the removal of Parler from its servers, giving the social media company only 24 hours’ notice on January 10. This was in conjunction with Apple and Google banning Parler from their app stores. Amazon claims Parler violated the service agreement by allowing violent content to be shared on its platform. The Amazon e-mail stated that it “cannot provide services to a customer that is unable to effectively identify and remove content that encourages or incites violence against others.”

After the January 6 protests, Parler did not ban content about election fraud, President Donald Trump or any other opinion. Other Big Tech companies banned President Trump and have since censored any content about election fraud, Covid-19 vaccine effectiveness, and the integrity of the 2020 presidential election. These opinions do not align with those of these tech giants.

While these Big Tech companies have blocked individuals or certain content, Amazon has the power to completely blot out websites at a whim. Thirty-two percent of the Internet is run on Amazon Web Services. That is a lot of power for a company that may decide your opinions “encourage or incite violence” or violate any of its vague service agreement clauses.

Another instance occurred when Amazon removed the documentary “Created Equal on Justice Clarence Thomas” from its streaming service with no warning or notice. According to the Wall Street Journal: Director Michael Pack said that Created Equal was doing well on Amazon, so it wasn’t pulled because no one wanted to see it. “For a while our film was, briefly, No. 1 in documentaries. And I think it’s still No. 25 or 30, so it’s been selling,” he said. Notably, he added, less-popular documentaries about Anita Hill and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg continue to be available for streaming on Amazon. “So why don’t they offer Created Equal? There’s obviously customer demand.”

Amazon has not given an explanation on why it suddenly decided to remove a documentary on a conservative minded Supreme Court justice (contractually it is not required to provide an explanation). But this is not the first time Amazon has removed content, as WSJ explained:

“If this episode sounds familiar, it’s because Amazon pulled a similar stunt last fall. Eli Steele’s What Killed Michael Brown?—a critique of liberal social policies that was written and narrated by his father, the race scholar Shelby Steele—was slated to stream on Amazon in October, then held up for reasons the company never fully explained.”

Amazon eventually relented and made the film available, but only after these pages weighed in and made a fuss. The documentary was picked up by the Daily Wire and is available to view on its website. This is an example of Amazon censoring content it directly controls. But as seen through the Parler example, it can remove the support servers for any of the businesses that use AWS.

While most of these streaming corporations lean left and allow unspeakably immoral content on their platform for millions of Americans to consume, it is doubtful any would allow their company to be destroyed for the sake of free speech. Amazon has enough leverage over the industry to cause universal censorship. This behavior has been manifest in another Amazon business line.

In addition to its dominance in the film industry, Amazon also controls 83 % of the book market. So what happens if the book you are selling does not align with Amazon’s opinions?

In early 2021, Amazon banned the book When Harry Became Sally, by conservative Ryan T. Anderson, which provides a different view on the transgender movement. The book was first released in 2018 and was one of the bestsellers on Amazon. The official Amazon policy states:

“We don’t sell certain content including content that we determine is hate speech, promotes the abuse or sexual exploitation of children, contains pornography, glorifies rape or pedophilia, advocates terrorism, or other material we deem inappropriate or offensive.”

Amazon sold the book in 2018, 2019 and 2020, but decided in 2021 that it is in violation of these guidelines. Three Republican senators wrote to Amazon asking for an explanation on the decision. Amazon responded by saying it has “chosen not to sell books that frame lgbtq+ identity as a mental illness.”

To add to the confusion, in May 2021 Amazon decided to keep selling Abigail Shrier’s book “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters.” Nearly 500 Amazon employees have signed a petition to have the book removed. At least two Amazon employees have resigned in protest. In 2020, Amazon refused to allow paid promotions of Ms. Shrier’s book.

In addition to the books that challenge the radical-leftist view of transgenderism, Amazon also temporarily banned criticism of the reaction to Covid-19, as NBC News writes:

Last year, Amazon blocked the selling of a self-published e-book that claimed the harms of the coronavirus were overstated, but reversed its decision after Elon Musk tweeted that the company’s decision was “insane.”

Amazon has been so inconsistent and vague that its unpredictability only allows censorship to be easier in the future. Would Amazon ever leverage its dominance in the film and book industry to censor opposing opinions?

Amazon’s new CEO is left-leaning Andy Jassy, who was leading Amazon Web Services when it de-platformed Parler, he’s now over the entire company. Amazon has censored before, and it likely will again. The war over censorship is moving toward a climactic battle.

After the January 6 protests, Big Tech acted in a concerted manner to censor any news or opinions that claimed the riot was not a terrorist attack or insurrection. Michelle Obama wrote a letter to Big Tech CEO’s to censor Donald Trump and conservatives and they did her bidding. However, since the Biden administration has taken power, it has escalated to state-sponsored censorship.

The Wall Street Journal ran an article that quotes a letter from two Democrat representatives addressed to Amazon, Apple, Google and cable companies. It reported:

“The letter is a demand for more ideological censorship. Our country’s public discourse is plagued by misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories and lies,” write Reps. Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney. They quote a claim that right-wing media is “much more susceptible,” and demand to know why Amazon’s Fire TV carries certain conservative programs.

Since when have lawmakers asked private companies to censor their political opponents? On July 15, the New York Post reported that the Biden administration is compiling a list of posts for Facebook to censor: “White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration is identifying ‘problematic’ posts for Facebook to censor because they contain ‘misinformation’ about Covid-19.”

Is Big Tech virtually another branch of the U.S. government? President Donald Trump is suing Facebook, Twitter and Google for censorship, claiming that the companies are acting as government agents, working hand-in-glove with the radical left. The battle over Big Tech censorship and free speech is ramping up.

Where is all of this leading? There will come a time in the future when free speech will be unavailable. The message coming from God’s work will disappear, like food disappearing in a famine. Amos also says that the “land is not able to bear all his words” (Amos 7:10). People in America will not be able to bear the message of warning and will seek to censor that message.

Besides the other tech giants, it is not hard to imagine how a company like Amazon, which has such a dominant influence on the Internet, film industry and online bookselling, could cause a famine of God’s Word.

That time is not here yet. God does deliver America from bitter affliction for a short period of time (2 Kings 14:26-27). What does this mean for you?

Watch and observe where Big Tech censorship is leading.

Self Censorship

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , , , on April 11, 2021 by andelino

While many Americans worry about ever-increasing censorship, those responsible for it have managed to amplify its effects by creating a climate of self-censorship.

Due to the psychological mechanisms of self-censorship, a single account blocked, a single video deleted, or a book banned can result in a broad chilling of speech. Important policy debates don’t occur, news story ideas aren’t pitched to editors, and books aren’t accepted for publishing, or written to begin with.

In some cases, it appears the censors employ the psychological tricks on purpose, achieving maximum suppression with minimal responsibility. These methods aren’t new—in fact, they have long been employed by “totalitarian regimes.”

 

The principle of “self-censorship” is that people, just to be on the safe side, refrain from saying even things that aren’t outright banned by some applicable rules.

An example is the effect of the Johnson Amendment, a law that prohibits tax-exempt nonprofits, including religious organizations, from endorsing or opposing political candidates.

Even though the law doesn’t prohibit discussion of political topics and stands virtually unenforced, opponents have long argued that pastors have avoided political topics in their sermons just to be sure they can’t be accused of running afoul of the law.

Here are a number of methods used to enhance self-censorship.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the world’s most notorious “censor of free speech”, has for decades used the method of making its policies intentionally “vague rules.” During its past political campaigns, for example, the central leadership would issue a decree that “rightists” and “counterrevolutionaries” were to be punished.

The next lower rung of Party officials wouldn’t be told what exactly makes one a “rightist” or a “counterrevolutionary” and perhaps not even what the punishment should be. No official, however, would want to be seen as too lenient—that would carry the risk of being labeled oneself.

As such, each successive level of bureaucracy would intensify its interpretation of the policy, leading to ever more extreme results. In some periods, the hysteria went far beyond self-censorship, as even refraining from political speech wasn’t enough.

“During the Cultural Revolution, people couldn’t buy food in canteens if they didn’t recite a quotation or make a greeting to Mao Zedong. When shopping, riding the bus, or even making a phone call, one had to recite one of Mao’s quotations, even if it was totally irrelevant. In these rituals of worship, people were either fanatical or cynical,” the “Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party” states.

In contemporary China, dissidents are often targeted for “subverting the state” or “spreading rumors.” The regime has proven that virtually any political statement can be subsumed under one of these charges.

The method appears to now be in play in contemporary America.

Amazon recently updated its policies to ban books that contain “hate speech,” without explaining what it considers as such. Since Amazon controls more than 80 percent of the book retail market, publishers are left to guess whether a book may get the “hate speech” label and thus be much less profitable to publish.

Roger Kimball, the publisher of “Encounter Books” and an Epoch Times contributor, said he so far hasn’t considered avoiding titles that may be targeted by Amazon, but he called it “a very worrisome harbinger.”

“It is possible that other publishers will do that. Certainly, I think that the atmosphere for opinion is much narrower now than it was in the past.”

He gave the example of Simon & Schuster, a publishing powerhouse that recently canceled its publishing of the book of Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) due to Hawley’s questioning the “integrity of the 2020 presidential election.”

If publishers “bow” to Amazon, authors may go even further, altogether avoiding topics that may “spook” the publishers.

Other tech platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter usually provide some “definition of hate speech” and other content rules, but have acknowledged that they intentionally keep at least “part of their policies secret” to prevent people from circumventing them. The effect is that users try to guess the “boundaries” of censorship themselves.

Those who invested great efforts to build their online followings are likely to adopt especially stringent self-censorship, as they have the most to lose. YouTube, for example, bans any content that says the 2020 election result was affected by fraud.

The policy seems relatively clear, yet it appears to have nudged YouTube personalities to avoid the topic of election integrity altogether, just to be on the safe side.

Another method to induce self-censorship is “selective enforcement.” During the CCP’s past political campaigns, it would pick targets for persecution seemingly at random. Even the targets wouldn’t necessarily know what exactly had brought the Party’s wrath upon them. In response, people would scramble to make sense of the situation, drawing red lines of self-censorship based on guesswork.

Elements of this method can be seen in various settings in the West.

When Amazon recently banned a book that criticizes transgender ideology, published by Encounter Books in 2018, it didn’t explain why. Instead, Amazon quietly updated its book policies on hate speech. It then left it to the public to connect the dots and label the book as hate speech themselves.

Similarly, other tech platforms commonly refuse to comment on specific cases of censorship or even tell the accused what exactly they did wrong. This method can also work through changes and exceptions to the rules.

The CCP has been notorious for constantly changing its policies. Allies of the revolution of yesterday found themselves enemies of the Party today, but could expect to be called upon to cooperate with the Party tomorrow. Hence came the saying, “Party policy is like the moon, it changes every 15 days.”

People have found themselves in a position of constantly trying to figure out how to be in alignment with what the Party is currently saying and even anticipating what the Party might say next and preemptively avoid saying anything that might be deemed problematic in the future.

The tech platforms of today openly acknowledge that their content policies are a work in progress. Over the years, new rules have been repeatedly added and are usually applied retrospectively.

Thus, content that was acceptable yesterday may get banned and removed today. More restrictions can be expected tomorrow, or the companies may reverse themselves on some issues.

Rules can also be bent for political convenience. Facebook, for example, considers verbal attacks on people based on their race, sex, or sexual proclivities to be hate speech. But its contracted moderators were informed in 2018 that for a period of time, attacks on straight white males would be exempted as long as they were “intended to raise awareness for Pride/LGBTQ,” an internal memo revealed.

 Another method is using “denial or resistance” as evidence of guilt.

In current progressive ideologies, denying that one is racist or has “white privilege” counts as a confirmation of the charges. In fact, any resistance to the ideology and its labels is often labeled as “white fragility” or “internalized oppression” and thus illegitimate.

Leaving no room for rightful criticism, the ideology discourages debate. Rather than deal with the grief of being pejoratively labeled, many keep their objections to themselves.

Jodi Shaw, a former student support coordinator at Smith College, an elite women’s college, recently left her job over what she described as a “dehumanizing” environment.

In 2018, the liberal arts institution put in place a number of initiatives to fight “systemic racism” at the school. Yet the efforts didn’t sit right with her. She was instructed to treat people differently based on their race and sex, which in practice meant projecting onto people one’s own stereotypes.

She said it felt fake. “There’s a script for white people and a script for people who aren’t white. And it felt like you kind of had to stay on the script.” It was clear to her that there was no room for disagreement or even doubt.

“You just cannot talk about it out loud,” she said. “You can’t express your doubt out loud.” A staunch liberal, she tried to get along with the program, telling herself it’s just being done “to help.”

When the doubts persevered, she even questioned her own morality. “Does that mean I’m racist?” she asked herself. “I think a lot of people on the left have this issue where they feel a little confused. They feel like something doesn’t feel right, but I’m not supposed to think that something’s not right,” she said.

The staffers in her department were “true believers,” she said, but she talked to seven or eight people from other departments who privately shared her concerns.

“Whispers, you know, in hallways and stuff, alone, they’re like, ‘Yeah, this is just like, something’s really messed up about this. Ultimately, she concluded that there was no ‘inner racist’ talking, it was her conscience, and the ideology was just messing with her psyche. It’s how this ideology works. It gets into your head, and I think it’s damaging,” she said.

Another way to impose self-censorship is extending “blame beyond the target” to anybody even tenuously associated with it. Totalitarian regimes have long used this tactic, punishing family, friends, colleagues, supervisors, and other associates of dissidents.

Examples of “guilt by association” are common today. Media, universities, and other institutions willing to host speakers from another political camp are criticized for “giving a platform” to “hate” or some other pejorative. Anybody uttering a word of support for one of the censored figures can expect to be targeted next.

When Shaw started to talk about her concerns publicly, she found that the Smith staffers who privately agreed with her suddenly became unavailable. “The fear of guilt by association is so terrifying that people won’t even text me,” she said.

That not only induces self-censorship in one’s circle but also further isolates the target. “You get isolated, and you’re not able to talk it through with somebody else and determine that, yes, indeed there’s something wrong,” Shaw said.

Kari Lake, former news anchor at Fox 10 in Arizona, faced criticism for merely setting up an account on alternative social media sites “Parler” and “Gab.” The critics argued that she was “guilty by association”, since Parler and Gab had been labeled as a favorite platform of “Nazis.”

While the attacks never made Lake question her beliefs, it did prompt her to self-censor. “I actually find myself not posting stories that are just factual because I’m like: ‘Oh, just posting that, even though it’s true, might anger some people. It might just get the left mad and I don’t want to, you know, kick the hornet’s nest,’” she said.

It’s been especially disheartening for Lake to see “censorship” endorsed by many fellow journalists. “They’re just fine with it, and it saddens me,” she said.

She’d like to see more diversity of viewpoints among journalists, estimating that most in the profession lean left. Even the few conservative ones she knows are “very, very closeted about it.”

“The people I know might even act or pitch stories that might appear left-leaning to kind of show people, ‘look, I’m not conservative,’” she said. A few weeks ago, Lake quit her job.

“I realized, well, I’m part of that. I’m part of this system. I’m part of the media, and if I don’t like it and I can’t do anything to change it, then I need to get out,” she said.

Censorship in America is peculiar in its form as it’s largely not the doing of the government. It’s not even necessarily the result of government pressure, though that now seems to be underway as well. Rather, it’s based on actors both in and out of government across the American society aligning with an ideology that’s totalitarian at its root.

It’s unlikely that Americans can rely on somebody pushing against the ideology from the top. In fact, the ideology appears to now be endorsed by a majority of the government.

Yet it may be that government measures wouldn’t offer a solution as long as a significant share of the population still subscribes to the ideology or is willing to go along with it.

As Judge Learned Hand said in his 1944 speech The Spirit of Liberty: “Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it.”

It appears Americans’ stand is now to rekindle that spark of liberty in the hearts of their peers.

Facebook Censorship Has Become ‘Outrageous,’ Whistleblower Says

Big Tech Censorship

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on March 17, 2021 by andelino

Chinese state-run media, known for its censorship of “dissenting” viewpoints, pointed to Big Tech’s “banning” of President Donald Trump as evidence that there is no country with truly “free speech.”

Chinese state-run media condemned Twitter and Facebook’s censorship of President Donald Trump suggesting that the U.S., which is generally thought to represent “democracy”, isn’t democratic.

“The banning of the US president’s social media account for ‘risks of further incitement of violence’ shows that freedom of speech does indeed have boundaries in every society,” Chinese state-run Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin wrote.

A January 9th editorial published in the state-run Global Times said the systematic Big Tech “crackdown” proves that there are limits to free speech in “every society.”

“The banning of the US president’s social media account for risks of further incitement of violence shows that freedom of speech does indeed have boundaries in every society, and humans are not capable of regulating freedom of speech in its full sense. This is a pity, but it’s also a reality,” Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin wrote.

Xijin added that the “social media bans” of Trump are the result of a broader “degeneration” of the U.S. political system.

Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, Reddit and other platforms suspended or banned the president in the aftermath of the January 6th “Save America” rally where Trump spoke before “Antifa” rally attendees stormed the Capitol building, Axios reported. On January 8th, Twitter was the first to permanently suspend Trump from using his account, citing potential “incitement of violence.”

Tens of thousands of conservative accounts were purged from Twitter in the aftermath of the riot.

While state media used the purge as evidence that “free speech” doesn’t exist in the U.S., Chinese social media websites, usually quick to ban posts that criticize the Chinese Communist Party, allowed users to openly criticize American censorship. Chinese users were given free reign to “rant” about American Big Tech companies.

“Legally he’s still the president,” one viral post on the popular Chinese social media platform Weibo said. “This is a coup.”

“A country as big as the United States can’t tolerate Trump’s mouth,” another popular post said. “U.S. democracy has died.”

Another post drew a parallel between the U.S. and “Saddam’s Iraq and Qaddafi Libya.” Political cartoonist Kuang Biao, whose drawings critical of the Chinese Communist Party have been regularly censored, was not censored when he posted a picture of Trump’s mouth sewn up.

In addition, a WeChat post written by well-known law professor He Weifang supporting “censorship” of Trump was “removed” from the platform. A link to the post now leads to a warning message saying the post had “violated rules.”

“When Twitter banned Trump, it was a private platform refusing to serve the president,” a Weibo user wrote. “When Weibo bans you, it’s simply executing government guidelines to censor an individual’s speech.”

In 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping issued new rules ordering news outlets to serve the Chinese Communist Party, removing their independence, according to an article in a state-run news outlet praising the decision.

Businessman Ren Zhiqiang was “silenced” on social media for criticizing Jinping’s orders. In September, Zhiqiang was “sentenced” to 18 years in prison after he criticized China’s “coronavirus” response.

First Amendment Rights Being Eroded by Technocrats
How Big Tech censorship can get more personal, and hairier

Gaslighting

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on November 14, 2020 by andelino

The term gaslighting comes from Patrick Hamilton’s 1938 play Gas Light, later made into a movie starring Ingrid Bergman, in which the wife becomes concerned about the dimming of her upstairs gas lights. Her husband – who for nefarious reasons is in fact responsible for their dimming – insists that there’s nothing to see here, she’s imagining things.

The term is used in clinical psychology generally in the context of abusive relationships but it can also be applied in the context of media. In that context media gaslighters attempt to control the information the public is exposed to in order to allow the lies and manipulations of their preferred political ideologues to go unchallenged.

Censorship, suppression and disinformation are used to control the “news” environment and hence “popular opinion.” You might know the technique as propaganda. It is now and has always been popular and readily applied in authoritarian states.

Bill Whittle explained the methodology quite well back in 2014…

Our leftist gaslighters will go so far as to claim that it is the right that’s gaslighting America, not them. But I would point out that it is only the Left that mandates their “reality” – be it global warming or vote counting – be treated as true, unopened to questioning.

Only the left that suppresses speech they do not agree with – that cancels any voice that dares question the “science”  as they’ve defined it. Only the left that demands heretics be deemed dangerous and silenced.

So put me down as a heretic. I don’t trust the veracity of the left’s ostensible vote counting any more than I believe their “man made” global warming nonsense.

The reason Donald Trump got 70 million votes last week is because we who refuse to be “gaslighted” have found nobody else who is willing to stand and speak for us. The bulk of what was once the GOP is simply a simpering batch of liars and hypocrites who can’t be trusted to support what’s right and good.

So even if you don’t like our President’s in-eloquent manner of speech, are “embarrassed” by his Tweets, wish he were not so in-your-face pugnacious, he stands with us.

And we stand with the way America was conceived, not as it’s being “fundamentally transformed.” Just as President Trump is all we’ve got, so too are we all he has.

Demand Truth.
Demand Justice.
Demand the American Way.
And demand a recount. 

I am mad as hell and I won’t be “gaslighted” anymore.

Some 50 years of “liberal” education/propaganda has brought us to this point. Fighting our way out is now the only option.

Welcome to the revolution.

Internet Censorship

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 21, 2019 by andelino

We are entering the twilight years of a “free” Internet. An Internet where anyone can post anything, and anyone can find it and read it. The continued existence of this online freedom, with all “the good, the bad and the ugly” that it produces, faces a range of threats.

The big social networks like “Google, Face Book and Twitter” are censoring what people can read and “kicking” more and more users “off” their sites. The freedom the Internet gives is becoming freedom for these big companies to “spy” on users and control “freedom of speech.” But one of the biggest “threats” to the Internet comes from governments.

Authoritarian governments have always tried to “control” what people say. If individuals can plan and “organize” freely, they can plan to “overthrow” the government. Dictators also tend to “control” the press. But that’s much less “effective” if citizens can get “online” to post the truth.

The sun set on Internet “freedom” in China a long time ago. China is now bidding to “control” crucial pieces of Internet “infrastructure” far beyond its borders. The Russian government passed a new law that will “tighten the noose” on Internet freedom there. The European Union is “weaponizing” its power to regulate the Internet. The end of the Internet as we know it is nigh.

Nearly 1 billion people use the Internet in China, but their Internet is not our Internet. The government “blocks” most foreign websites. Sites that are allowed, but based outside of China, “load” more slowly. And the government monitors what you look at online: “Google, Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia” are all blocked. Some companies have much more “restricted” versions of their sites available. It’s all part of what senior fellow Elizabeth Economy, from the “Council on Foreign Relations” called “the largest and most sophisticated online censorship operation in the world.” In 2013, experts estimated over 2 million were employed in “online censorship” reading and deleting social media posts.

Chinese leaders have proved so successful at “blocking” news it doesn’t want their people to see, that this “expertise” has become one of the latest “Made in China” exports.

“China, in other words, appears to be floating the first competitive alternative to the open Internet—a model that it is steadily proliferating around the world,” Samm Sacks, of the “Center for Strategic and International Studies” wrote in the Atlantic last year. “As that model spreads, whether through Beijing’s own efforts or through the model’s inherent appeal for certain developing countries with more similarities to China than the West, we cannot take for granted that the Internet will remain a place of free expression where open markets can flourish.”

“Chinese partners like Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt engage in aggressive online content control,” wrote Sacks. Foreign Policy wrote last year, “Across sub-Saharan Africa, free expression is being unjustly curtailed, and the Internet is increasingly being used by authorities to censor and surveil citizens.” Often Chinese experts make it possible. Beginning in 2015, China helped Tanzania build its own “Great Internet Firewall.”

Recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a new law calling on Russia to develop its own Internet. Under this setup, Russia should be able to completely disconnect itself from the World Wide Web—but have all websites within Russia continue to function. “The new law would provide for central control of all Internet traffic, and in essence, remove the need for data to be sent to and received from overseas servers,” explained Forbes. “This control would clearly introduce traffic monitoring and stark censorship of sites that could be visited by Russian users.”

The Russian government already blocks websites, though not quite on the same scale as China. What this new law is attempting, however, is even more ambitious. “No country has ever tried to build its own Internet architecture before,” wrote Time. “Even China, the world leader when it comes to Internet censorship, has built its ‘Great Firewall’ on the existing global DNS (Domain Name System) filtering traffic, but is still part of the same worldwide addressing system.”

Because it is so ambitious, Russia’s attempt may fail. But former Google CEO Eric Schmidt has warned that the Internet could “split” in two within 10 to 15 years. One version would be “free and open” and centered on America. Another would be “heavily restricted” and led by China and Russia.

Underlying these “fears” is the fact that China is literally “building” a new Internet. The quest of Chinese firm Huawei to build “5G Internet” across the world is the most visible “manifestation” of this.

5G (fifth generation) Internet “infrastructure” is a major upgrade that “transmits” information much more rapidly. A mobile phone on 5G is expected to have an average “download” speed of 1 GBps, faster than your top-of-the-line current home “fiber optic” connection.

It can also handle more “connected” devices. So it will become the backbone of the “Internet of things.” As cars, roads and even fridges all begin to talk to each other, they’ll be doing it largely through the 5G network.

“We think the stakes couldn’t be higher with regard to 5G technology, because of all of the things we build out over the coming years on top of that tech,” Rob Strayer, the deputy assistant secretary for cyber and international communications at the United States State Department, told BBC. “This is truly a monumental decision being made now.”

Huawei is the world’s largest telecom equipment manufacturer, and like all big Chinese companies, it is “controlled” by the Chinese government. The Central Intelligence Agency claims that Huawei receives money from China’s security services. Despite this, it will be building much of the 5G infrastructure. Europe is seriously “considering” using Huawei. Even the United Kingdom has “decided” to use Huawei, though it will “jeopardize” close security relations with the U.S.

But this isn’t the only piece of Chinese control infrastructure. As part of its “Belt and Road Initiative”, China is building and upgrading “networks” all across central Asia. A Pentagon report in January warned that this “Digital Silk Road” project could “enable politically motivated censorship.”

Huawei is also “moving” out to sea. Huawei Marine has worked on over 100 undersea cable projects, becoming the world’s fourth-largest “undersea cable company.”

“While the U.S. wages a high-profile campaign to exclude China’s Huawei Technologies Co. from next-generation mobile networks over fears of espionage, the company is embedding itself into undersea cable networks that ferry nearly all of the world’s Internet data,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

It warned that American officials “say the company’s knowledge of and access to undersea cables could allow China to attach devices that divert or monitor data traffic—or, in a conflict, to sever links to entire nations. Such interference could be done remotely ….”

Britain’s national security adviser, Mark Sedwill, warned in 2017 that attacks on these cables could have “the same effect as used to be achieved in, say, World War II by bombing the London docks or taking out a power station.”

China, with all its experience “spying” on the Internet use of its 1.4 billion citizens, could soon “spy” on the world.

In March 2015, China unveiled its  new “great cannon”weapon. Its first target was“Virtual Private Network” (VPN) websites that helped Chinese Internet users get “around” its firewall. The cannon “weaponized” China’s 800 million Internet users. It took users of “Baidu”, China’s equivalent of Google, and directed them to the target websites. Before long, these sites were “flooded” with more traffic than they could handle, and “knocked” offline.

In his book “The Great Firewall of China”, James Griffiths describes this as a crucial moment “when the architects of the Great Firewall turned their attention to the rest of the world, unwilling to tolerate challenges to their dominance wherever they came from.”

“It was a message,” writes Griffiths, “a new front in China’s war on the Internet.”

Already companies have to be very careful about what they do online. Last year, an employee running the Marriott International Twitter account “liked” a tweet from Friends of Tibet, a Tibetan separatist group. It seemed a reasonable thing to do. The group had “praised” Marriott for listing Tibet as a “separate” country from China.

The Chinese government responded by “blocking” Marriott’s website and mobile app for a week. Marriott caved. They fired the employee and posted a groveling tweet.

“Marriott International respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China. We don’t support separatist groups that subvert the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China. We sincerely apologize for any actions that may have suggested otherwise.”

With China “controlling” more and more of the Internet, will this “offensive” action continue? How long before large companies no longer “host” content that China disagrees with?

WordPress is “banned” in China. Could China start targeting “weblogs” like ours beyond their borders?

We’re moving into a time of “authoritarian rulers” who won’t allow free speech, “online or off.”

Censorship

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on May 18, 2019 by andelino

The White House launched a tool that will allow any U.S. citizen to submit a “complaint” if they think they were unfairly “censored” on social media platforms.

Social media bias has become a major talking point for conservatives who argue that Silicon Valley companies are “biased” against their viewpoints.

President Trump said that he liked platforms like “Twitter” and “Facebook” because they allowed him to reach voters in an “unrestricted” way, unlike the “fake” mainstream media.

The new form begins by asking users to submit “basic” information about themselves, like their first and last names. It then asks users if they are “citizens.”

If a user clicks “yes,” the form continues. If a user clicks “no,” a screen pops up saying: “Unfortunately, we can’t gather your response through this form. Please feel free to contact us at WhiteHouse.gov/contact.

The tool asks users next to click which platform they’ve experienced bias on: “Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube or Other.” It asks users to link to the “suspected post” and post a screenshot from the platform, if applicable, of the rule violation notification.

The “online” form where users can submit requests is also an “email collection” mechanism.

“We want to keep you posted on President Trump’s fight for free speech,” the form states after a few questions. “Can we add you to our email newsletters so we can update you without relying on platforms like Facebook and Twitter?”

The move is yet another example of ways the administration has chosen to “tackle” issues unilaterally, as opposed to working with bigger institutions or bodies to enact change.

The White House launched the tool just hours after it broke with more than a dozen world leaders and top technology companies in an international call to action around the rise of “online extremism” on social platforms.

“Censorship” and “Freedom of speech” are under attack throughout social media. Here’s what’s happening:

The next stage in tech overlords’ censorship: De-platforming un-PC blogs 

ICANN

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , , , on April 6, 2014 by andelino

ICANN 01The U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration will end its formal relationship with the “Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers” in late 2015, with ICANN developing “a new global governance model,” the administration reported.

The NTIA plans to let its “contract” with ICANN to operate key domain-name functions “expire” in September 2015, while requiring the organization to “develop” a new global Internet governance model, NTIA administrator Lawrence Strickling said during a press conference.

The USA, or more precisely Al Gore, “invented” the Internet and made it “available” to the World by creating the “Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers” (ICANN) to run the Internet the “American Way” providing for “Freedom of Speech, Religion, Association, Assembly and Petition.”

Now, in 2014, it appears that the USA is planning that commencing in 2015, the Internet will be run the “International Way” which will, undoubtedly include “regulation” off speech, religion, association, assembly and petition; stated differently.

It will involve a new form of “ICANN” which will come to mean “Ideologically Counter-Americanizing the Net’s Nature” or “Internationally Collectivizing America’s Noble Network.”

ICANN 03

Defenders of a free and open Internet are “facing a pretty dangerous time right now,” as countries that want “censorship and control” of the Internet push their agendas at the International Telecommunications Union and other forums, ICANN leader Fadi Chehadé stated.

“I want to lean into this community,” Chehadé said. “This is a time of engagement.”

During December’s World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), members of the ITU were close to passing “resolutions” that would have given the ITU ICANN’s duties and giving nations “calling for censorship” a greater voice in the coordination of the Internet’s “Domain Name System” (DNS), Chehadé said.

A few slack-jawed Right-Winger back lashed: “This is not a good thing for what JFK deemed the long twilight struggle seeking to assure the ultimate triumph of liberty over tyranny.”

ICANN 02

How typical of the “greedy” American fascist “capitalists” to turn over the Internet to its “true” owners from whom they “stole it in the first place” after they have “used up” all of the world’s “IP addresses!”

Internet Access Denied

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on December 16, 2012 by andelino

Access DeniedAccess Denied
BY JOHN ARQUILLA  

The United Nations couldn’t control the Internet even if it wanted to.

The International Telecommunication Union, a special U.N. organization that is “committed to connecting all the world’s people,” is in the middle of 10 days of largely closed-doors meetings in Dubai, where the agenda seems more aimed at “controlling” global communications.

cyber securityIn opening remarks to the 2,000 delegates from 193 countries, ITU Secretary General Hamadan Touré emphasized that “cyber security” should come first and, implicitly, that it should come under “his” purview. For all the commitments to openness that he and others profess, this conference is about the national security interests of states.

For starters, Dr. Touré would like to see some form of U.N. control of “Internet” domain names and numbers, something currently administered by the private, nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). But this would hardly improve security by itself. There is a kind of “naïve” faith that if nation-states exert greater “control” over cyberspace-based communications, “security” will improve.

CensorshipChina, Russia, and a host of other nations — most of them authoritarian — love the idea of more control, as this would enable greater “censorship” and erode individual “privacy.” Sadly, many liberal democratic states, out of a mix of economic and security concerns, go along with the idea of giving nations more authority to regulate cyber-communications.

Among the matters that are feared to be under discussion is the imposition of “cyber tolls” — charges levied to allow entry into a country’s cyber sphere, or “virtual territory.” Another effort lies in the realm of fighting “pedophiles” and curtailing the worst sorts of “pornography.” Surely this is a noble undertaking, but some worry that authoritarians might really be aiming to further undermine their peoples’ “freedom of speech, privacy, and civil liberties” — all in the name of this good cause.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of increasing national-level control of cyber space is the idea being bruited about that “anonymity” should be banned. Again, there are logical reasons to think about this: making life harder for terrorists, tracking criminals, and deterring social predators.

ENCRYPTED DATABut many of these malicious actors have sufficient expertise to slip the bonds of such a ban, while the rest of us will have lost our privacy. The fact that “deep packet” inspection — giving nations the right and power to read “encrypted” cyber traffic — is also on the table for discussion is troubling too.

Several protests have arisen to the World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai. One of the most articulate “opposing” voices is that of Vint Cerf of Google, an Internet pioneer. His critique has two parts: “first, that voices other than those of nation-states need to be heard; second, that it is the very lack of governmental controls and sheer openness of the Internet that creates value and drives the information age forward.”

anonymityProtest has also taken the form of insurgency. It seems that the “hacktivist” organization “Anonymous” may be involved in disruptive cyber acts that have slowed, and at one point stopped, the operations of the conference’s official website. This group and many people of like mind around the world see much to worry about when it comes to “closed-door” meetings of government representatives.

There is also deep “irony” in the desire of nations to seek more control over cyber space. Dictators have abused their existing abilities to restrict access in efforts to “chill” dissent.

Hosni Mubarak shut down the Internet in just such an attempt. But he failed, because the Egyptian masses had been using cyber space to share their anger and gather their courage for many months before the regime struck at the Net.

Indeed, the shutdown was the signal to the people that it was time to go to Tahrir Square. Bashar al-Assad seems to have tried something similar over a week ago, when the Net went down briefly in Syria. He too will fail.

Cyber WarriorsIn the end, U.N. efforts to control cyberspace, “aided and abetted” by all too many nations, will fail as well. The virtual world is a vast “wilderness” – artificial, but beautiful and complex, and growing in size and direction in ways that almost surely lie beyond the ability of governments to control. The sooner this is realized, the better. It will save the world from a costly global struggle between “balky” nations and “nimble” insurgent networks.

There are better things for the United Nations to focus on if it wishes to play a productive role in the “information age.” Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, whose video address at the opening of the Dubai conference spoke of a desire to foster openness and Internet freedom, should act on his own words and reject the role of regulator.

Instead, he should lead his organization as a negotiator, fostering behavior-based forms of cyber arms control — as there is still time to head off an age of “mass disruptive” cyber wars.

cyber warAlmost all IT is dual-use. Any laptop can be used to wage cyber war. But it is possible to craft agreements not to use such weaponry first, not to use it against civilian infrastructure or in acts of “cybotage,” as in the case of the “Stuxnet” worm attack on Iran.

Many of the nations that have signed the chemical and biological weapons conventions can still make these terrible weapons, but promise not to do so, or to use them. If the United Nations wants a role, it should seek a similar behavioral approach to arms control in cyberspace.

Russia first proposed something like this at the United Nations back in the ‘90s. The United States opposed it. Now the Russians are among the best cyber “warriors” in the world, and American cyber security is in a “parlous” state.

GlobalStruggleWhat is to be done? Let me make a modest suggestion to Dr. Touré: “Stream the remainder of the Dubai conference to the world in a live webcast. Allow a global discourse to commence, one in which nations and networks together will find the right way ahead. If you are for openness, then be open.”

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