In the Loop

The revolution will not be online ... in certain countries

Posted at 3:53 PM on October 16, 2007 by Larissa Anderson

You can find anything on the internet, right?

Not if you live in Burma or China or several other countries.

According to this article in the Christian Science Monitor (which I read online), Burmese citizens might have Americans to thank for the information block.

During Burma's short-lived uprising late last month, young dissidents risked their lives to smuggle news of their peaceful protest to the outside world. They may have been up against Internet censorship software designed in America, if a connection found to exist in 2005 still holds.

Moreover, if a US firm wanted to sell Internet filters to Burma (Myanmar) today, despite several layers of economic sanctions against the government there, it would probably be legal to do so, say export lawyers.

Absence of federal regulation has allowed so-called censorware of at least four California companies to end up in the hands of foreign governments shown to block citizens' access to political, religious, and other websites.

The article mentions that researchers with OpenNet Initiative are investigating this kind of censorship. So far, they've found 24 countries with some kind of internet filtering.

Lucky for us, there are some sites that tell you how to work around censorware.

Also floating around online is this blog post chronicling one writer's attempt to find out what kind of dirty words she could use in a Microsoft blogging program before she got censored.

Now that's democracy.

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