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Was reading Chloe’s post that more than 80% of the Chinese population said yes to the filtered content. Well, since I’m researching on Iran, the perspective that I’m offering is least to say, in Iran’s point of view… Internet filtering in Iran is almost as old as Internet itself, where previously, it had been concerned over the politically sensitive content and the pornographic sites… I gathered that in Nov 06, the SCCR handed down a decree that sites publishing “false information”, or comments that threatened the “unity of the country” would be banned, meaning that just about any site can face the probability of getting banned so long as it is deemed unfit by the government.

Apparantly, this hasn’t gone down very well with the Iranians. Many see this as “inept and over-prescriptive filtering“, which I tend to agree. To a large extent at least.. I feel that the “protecting our people from content that could potentially corrupt young minds” thing is a whole lot of crap. I believe that majority of us are mature and discerning enough to make a judgement call ourselves and having someone to tell us what not to do is just gonna create more of the rebellious streak in us. And to the minority that needs their impressionable minds looked after, thats just part and parcel of life. Evil lurks wherever Good goes.. thats a fact of life, thats history and if young impressionable minds could cause crimes, murders and wars centuries ago, I don’t think internet filtering will be of much help to these poor souls anyway… but thats just my point of view…

Setting my POV aside, this issue however, draws a fairly interesting comparison when you put it side-by-side China. The Chinese are obviously saying YES (then again, the recent Sichuan earthquake hints at a NO) but the Iranians are saying NO… to essentially the same thing…  But reading through the different articles online, the same old feeling hits me… Why bother if its a right or wrong? What matters most is obviously what the people of the nation wants. Do they want internet filtering or not should be the crux of the question, not whether it is right or wrong, should or shouldn’t, need or needn’t.

If it is what the nation’s people want, then its obviously a right, should and need, vice versa. I mean, yes, to a certain degree, some people might not know whats good and bad for them, but I would think majority of the people do. We keep talking anout how culture shapes our thoughts, our actions and our beliefs, so shouldn’t we let it shape how the internet should or should not work for us? Shouldn’t we be leaving these decisions for the people to decide, as a collective whole, as a nation instead of imposing our views and expectations on them?

Just a thought…

I’ve always known that not all Chinese are dissatisfied with their current situation regarding Internet censorship by the state but I never thought that over 80% would believe that the WWW should be controlled! Well perhaps – coming from a Singaporean living in a nation where we do not really much issues regarding online censorship – my perspective may also be sitting on one side of the fence as well.

Nevertheless on the other hand, I understand perfectly why the Chinese are responding this way and how come they cannot help but feel the way they do. I mean if I were the one to be exposed to the negativities of WWW on a daily basis, I guess I would not be writing in this manner now. By deliberately focusing on significant negative impacts of the internet on the people, it is undoubtedly propaganda and what I call “brainwashing“. Honestly, this brings me back to the old days when I studied about the Qing dynasty, where attempts are made to unify people’s thoughts.

Yes – I agree that internet does have its setbacks; be it internet addiction or what not. But the advantages of the WWW undeniably surpasses all that. The internet is meant as a free and open for all platform whereby anybody and everybody can access global information freely. It is how we transcend geographical barriers & physical limits. Through this platform, we know what is really going on in the world around us. Not all information online is credible and accurate; hence it is our responsibilities to sift through all the rubble, research, accumulate data, interpret & analyze before we come to a conclusion regarding any issue.

Just like when we are taking certain drug prescriptions by the doctor – they are what help us recover. But if we were to overdose or abuse them, we would get addicted. But does this nullify the importance and benefits the drug can bring? It is all about personal responsibility. Because some people in the world have fallen to the “evils of the internet”, it does not justify the constraints in place. I think not. Furthermore, the internet is a privilege that is irreplaceable – unlike drugs that maybe substituted with alternatives to bring about approx. similar effects.

With the read write web so deeply integrated in all of our lives now, personally I would not be able to imagine accessing my internet everyday knowing that my freedom in web browsing is stifled. What would be the point of the internet then? Accessing information that is considered “safe” may be all well and good. But that definition of what is safe or not is not determined by us. It is what others in authority have enforced upon us. And as we all know, people in authority – though have a right to rule, they are Not always right. And I think that the people should have a chance to make a fair choice; putting all other propaganda aside. In short, people should have the opportunities to take risks and make their own decisions with their own lives. Having others do it for us just doesn’t cut it.

Furthermore, when limits are enforced and made forbidden, the more some people will try to access this forbidden fruit. Especially if they have tasted it before. A person can never know the benefits a free internet can bring unless he or she has yet to experience it before. Perhaps when I put it this way, I Also cannot know the benefits a “limited” internet can bring unless I have experienced it before. But its hard to imagine. With increasing globalization of China and with more and more Chinese studying abroad, maybe these will be the people who will bring the path around. They will be the people who are more vocal and more out-spoken about their own rights. Even though the outcome may not change for many years down the road but I believe it is still important to fight for it – as numerous are doing now. It simply would not do to accept something enforced upon us when our feelings are lying in the opposite direction. If so, what are the chances of people becoming mindless shells eventually – you tell me.

In the end, oh well – who am I trying to tell people what to do?

love, chloe

December 2019
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