Internet censorship and gambling
Some time ago Google caved into pressure from Chinese authorities and applied widespread filters to search results served in China. It was just one of a number of filtering strategies employed that are known as the Great Firewall of China…the internet as authorities want it served, not as it truly exists.
If you do a search at Google images for ‘tiananmen square’ you’ll find the first page of results dominated by that iconic shot of a defiant student standing before a row of tanks during the massacre. From Australia, this search results in 11 of the 18 first page results showing this image. Sitting at a computer in China, you will not find this image. Nor will you find a myriad of other content deemed politically sensitive by the Chinese government.
But the filter doesn’t stop at news reports about injustices and human rights abuses in Tibet and the like. It extends to a whole raft of categories deemed inappropriate. Gambling and gaming (video games etc) of course are also on the controlling regime’s hit list so this discussion is very relevant here.
It was heartening to read that in the last couple of weeks Google’s boss Sergei Brin said enough’s enough and at the threat of a Government imposed site ban, lifted the filters they had been applying to search. The war is well and truly on.
But China is not the only country that imposes filters to choose what residents can and cannot view online. A number of middle eastern countries apply aggressive blocking measures to content deemed in. In the United Arab Emirates pornography, gambling, anti-Islamic material and even dating websites are a no-go. In Turkey the Telecommunications Communications Presidency has the power to issue administrative blocking orders to any site deemed inappropriate – Youtube videos are apparently regular offenders.
But censorship or other forms or control over Internet gateways isn’t limited to hard-line regimes. In the US, a movement has started to try and protect Internet freedom from a perceived threat from large telecommunications companies wanting to exert control over the online highways. You can visit savetheinternet.com to lend your support to this very worthy cause.
Meanwhile the Australian Government is soon to impose a Great Firewall of its own that will cost a fortune, slow internet connection speeds and (according to Crikey.com.au) have little success on achieving its stated aim of protecting children from online predators. The filter isn’t at all focused on casino or gambling sites generally, but the censorship proposal will provide a universal mechanism that can be extended at will by politicians so who knows what could be added to the filter list in the future?