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Friday, March 12, 2010

China: Developments across the virtual community

In following up on my recent post on the right to access to the internet, I thought I would share this morsel.
The Globe and Mail reported that Chinese activists are sidestepping official controls to blog and use Twitter as meeting places to discuss police intimidation. Some activists post detailed accounts of their encounters, while others relay tips and strategies for managing them. The Globe and Mail calls this the "tea party movement", an interesting and actually quite accurate description for what is going on in China. Effectively, the virtual community is standing together indirectly against the government. By trying to control access to the internet, I believe this is what China has been trying to prevent; Beijing fears the country's emerging civil society and its potential to challenge the government. The more people have access to internet technologies, the harder it will be for the Chinese government to clamp down on freedom of speech and expression.

Observers believe that "the ability to connect and share experiences diminishes authorities ability to frighten potential critics into silence". Isn't this what the U.S. was hoping to accomplish - open closed societies with the internet?


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