The post reminds me of a recent comment either in The Independent or in the Guardian which analyzed the political and economic situation of China and the West (US and Europe). The point made was that the West should stop preaching what it tries not to do, and it should start looking at facts rather than reminding in the frame of mind of empires which can teach other what they want. The argument was that the West is indebted (and some of the debt is actually owned by China which has now sufficient power to threaten the countries), whereas China is not, and that from an outsider like China or other non-European countries, the discourse about human rights is feeble given the eagerness of England for example to curb the recent riots (there was no human rights speech to defend the rioters in the UK) and of the rest of Europe to filter the internet for protection of children, copyrights etc…
I have to say I share this point of view, although I would add a cautionary touch: parallels do exist between the West and China, but it remains that so far, our freedom of speech is incommensurately greater than that in China. Whatever our weaknesses are -and they are many-, I still prefer to be in Europe or the US. As Churchill said, democracy is the worst of the political regimes … to the exception of all the others.
For the dubious or exagerrated reasons to cut off access or to filter:
“European Politicians Look To Ban WiFi In School… For The Children“, TechDirt 20 May 2011
“China Seizes Websites, Clamps Down On Speech… Uses Copyright Infringement As The Excuse” TechDirt 14 June 2011
Indeed, in democracies, at least the information gets out sometimes, somewhere, and with internet, much quicker than it used to be. See Google and its lists on who censors what. Obviously, there is a marketing interest here given the criticisms Google encountered about its commitment (or lack of it) to human rights. But in an autocratic state, such report is not available, at least not openly on the site of a major corporation.
“Google révèle la liste pays lui demandant de supprimer des liens“, Le Monde, 27 June 2011, a French article in the main French newspaper which refers to Google’s list published on that day about Governments’ filtering requests in the world for the period 2009-2010. Quite interesting!