Some salient quotes:
The British government, once an ardent advocate of absolute Internet freedom, has thus made a U-turn over its stance towards web-monitoring.
Well, yes, it does rather look that way, doesn’t it? When it is other countries having riots and we approve of those riots, Twitter and Facebook are good. When it is in London, they are bad. Forget, for a moment, the reasons and what was going on; these people are now setting themselves up alongside the Chinese to restrict our communications. This is a moral absolute. It is wrong. We do not pay politicians to restrict our freedom of speech. Period. When a vile, totalitarian regime looks favourably at our government and its pronouncements, something has gone seriously, seriously awry.
Learning a hard lesson from bitter experience, the British government eventually recognized that a balance needs to be struck between freedom and the monitoring of social media tools
There is no balance to be struck. Freedom of speech is an absolute. The government has no rights whatsoever to restrict them. In so doing, Cameron has given strength to the Chinese approach. This is pure evil.
Cameron himself admitted that the “free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill.”
This is perfectly true. So can telephone calls and the postal service. Are we to monitor and restrict those as well? Perhaps we can restrict them in times of difficulty? What happened this past week needed a robust police response. And, sure, using intelligence gathered from evidence in the public domain such as Twitter is okay if people are dumb enough to advertise what they are going to be doing and where they are going to be doing it – call it Darwinism in action, if you like. However, the suggestion that it should be restricted is appalling and displays the rotten authoritarian mindset of the politician for all to see.
“And when people are using social media for violence, we need to stop them,” he told lawmakers Thursday.
No, you don’t. You deal effectively with the lawbreaking. As mentioned above, if there is intelligence to be gathered, because people advertise their plans, well, fine, go along and wait for them to turn up. But stopping these people using social media means restricting everyone because that is what will happen sooner or later. I’m sure the Chinese will be more than happy to advise on systems and processes.
The Chinese, meanwhile are reflecting on the apparent (okay, not apparent) hypocrisy:
We may wonder why western leaders, on the one hand, tend to indiscriminately accuse other nations of monitoring, but on the other take for granted their steps to monitor and control the Internet.
You may wonder. Those of us with brains and a conscience do not wonder at all. We are disgusted with our weak, intellectually and morally bankrupt politicians who will turn to authoritarian means at the slightest hint of difficulty. There is no reason for governments to control their citizens’ Internet access. None.
They are not interested in learning what content those nations are monitoring, let alone their varied national conditions or their different development stages.
Perhaps they now are – however, it is all self-serving nonsense and there is no justification for it even if the Chinese seek comfort in the knowledge that iDave and his risible government are now converts to the cause.
With no previous practice, the world is still exploring effective solutions to Internet monitoring.
I’m sure they are and the Internet, being something of a strange frontier, will find ways to fight back. This is a good thing. What we say and to whom we say it is none of the state’s – any state’s – business. We should be free to criticise and complain about them as we see fit. We should be free to use it in any manner that we wish. If some people use it for the purposes of committing criminal activities, then deal with those criminal activities as appropriate. It is not an excuse to control the rest of us who, for the sake of clarity, are not criminals and object to being treated as if we are.
And the Internet is also a double-edged sword that cuts both ways. For the benefit of the general public, proper web-monitoring is legitimate and necessary.
Ah, yes, of course, that old argument used by the charlatan since time immemorial, it’s for our own good, for public safety. The French even had a committee set up to serve that very thing. That worked well, didn’t it?
So, there we have it, iDave and company are in good company. It comes to something when the Chinese government thinks he is getting it right after all.
May you live in interesting times.