Monday, February 7, 2011

"Censorship generates a lot of fear to the population"

Isaac Mao was the first blogger in China. He wrote his first post in 2002 and has become a landmark in the fight against censorship that the government of your country applies on the information. In 2007 he wrote an open letter to Google, criticizing the strategy that the company charged its search results and keyword filtering in China.

Mao is the author of Sharism: A Revolution of the mind, where he talks about the benefits of sharing information and addresses concepts related to collective intelligence. Among other charges, is director of the Social Brain Foundation, which aims to promote social media and free culture in their country with free access to information.

It has recently been nominated for journalism Index of Censorship, granted in Britain, which honors those who work actively for the freedom of expression. CaixaForum chat tomorrow (Barcelona) on the role of new technologies in Asian Tourism, invited by Casa Asia. Question: How does the Chinese government to censor Internet content? Answer: The Chinese government is spending millions of dollars in its infrastructure of censorship, which attempts to track and monitor all the information in the Network There are two levels: first blocked content created outside of China and other restricted information created within the country.

That is the main problem because all information created and published by citizens is likely to be blocked, but not only that, the government computer can access the source of the information and if the government deems appropriate, any person may be arrested because it has created content deemed inappropriate.

It really generates a lot of fear among the population. Q: What kind of information is more likely to be censored? A: Mainly all the information that talks about politics, democracy, freedom, and so on. We call the Great Firewall of censorship, a reference to the Great Wall, but on the Internet.

There are many key words censored, which today are affecting even the new computer technology and advancement. For example, the number 64, or 6.4, is banned in the search because the government believes that people can relate to the facts of Tianenmen Square, which occurred on June 4, 1989 (number 6 corresponds to the calendar June).

Recently, a computer program released its version 6.4. Immediately, your page was blocked for this reason. Q: People are aware of these restrictions on information? A: The level of knowledge is far superior from the Beijing Olympics in 2008. The government lifted censorship lasted as long as the Olympics.

Suddenly, people had access to Internet sites that had never before seen. When the Games ended, censorship again. Today, about 80% of the population knows that the government applies censorship on content, and 10% of citizens actively fighting against it. The term Fan Qiang, roughly translated as "escape the censorship is increasingly common among creators of Internet content.

People try to apply the Fan Qiang. Q: How can you escape the censorship in this context? A: Actually there is no list of words or concepts that are overtly censored, making it difficult to escape censorship. Anyway, there are issues, like politics, everyone knows better not to address them openly.

But then, something like 64, who could imagine that the government had implemented the censorship on this issue? There is great confusion in reality. That is the great problem of censorship: no one knows exactly what and why according to what content is censored and no other. Q: You were the first blogger in China.

How is the blogosphere in the country today? A: In 2002 all the bloggers we know. There were very few. Two years later, the blogs began to be popular and had something like half a million people with your own. Today, it is very difficult to say the exact number of bloggers, but there must be like 60 million active.

If we also microbloggers, then the number grows exponentially. Probably half of Internet users in China are reported using blogs or product systems like Twitter. Q: What about blogs and bloggers that the government blocked by censorship? A: It depends on who is behind the blog. Recently, the wife of an important political activist in China was to host their blog outside the country and could continue publishing.

In other cases the government computer get blocked before they get to stay outside our borders. These blogs that are outside of China are usually available within the country, because the censorship system is not infallible. Q: What is the situation for social networks like Facebook? A: They are totally prohibited.

There are many people who get access to these sites by using the technique, but they remain a minority. China is a country's social networks, like Twitter-like microblogging sites. In this case there Sina, which is a replica of Twitter. The only difference is that Sina has 700 employed to filter the content.

Thus, working with the government. Twitter Can you imagine doing that? No! That's why Twitter can not be or compete in China. Q: In terms of search engines in China, how companies interact as Google in that market? A: In the case of Google, the company operates in the country, but last year withdrew its servers in China to take them to Hong Kong.

That leads to problems such as slow connection to the server or problems with censorship. It is assumed that in Hong Kong censorship does not exist yet, there are a lot of blocked content for Google searches that are made from China. For example, if you type the name of any nominee of the Chinese government on Google, connecting from China, no matter what the server is in Hong Kong: the content is blocked.

The government takes care of it. Q: Do Internet companies operating in receiving instructions from the government? A: Yes, Google has received calls from the Chinese government constantly forcing them to block specific content and keywords. Google should continue its principles, which are based on the free flow of information, and not succumb to the hidden desires of my government.

People are confused with the steps taken by Google in our market, because it was not clear with your strategy. People prefer to continue using the most popular search engine, Baidu, although it is known that also blocks a lot of information. Q: Why do people prefer to use Baidu, a search engine censorship bias, supported by the government, and tax resident in the Cayman Islands? Do Internet users are aware of that? A: Yes, I would say that many Internet users know the situation of Baidu.

I still prefer for various reasons. One is the campaign that the government made against Google: Google said it was a full search of the pornographic and perverted. The government is highly influential in the minds of many Chinese. I could say that there is a collective brainwashing, and the public follow the instructions received with little thought.

But the key difference between Baidu and Google is providing content to Baidu, Google can not offer their customers, because Google is governed by the laws and regulations by the U.S. and Chinese Baidu. Thus, Baidu provides the ability to download material and files such as music that is copyrighted in other countries, for free, receiving no government punishment.

That is unthinkable for Google, going against its overall policy and against the laws of your country, America. Q: Would you change anything for the content of the letter you wrote to Google in 2007? A: Yes, I would ask that care for their users. There are still several million people who use Google, not using or will use Baidu ever, precisely because they are against any such violation of intellectual property rights.

Google to continue to advise new technology products designed for the Chinese market that would help avoid censorship in any way. Technologically possible and to ensure that Google can follow the principles underlying its search results in other countries. Q: You advocate the philosophy of sharing.

How lives his philosophy, which is based on who else rather get in a country where there are no laws governing intellectual property? A: I try to explain to people the idea of sharing, while I am in favor of the existence of laws protecting intellectual property. But the government allows excessive copy because they want the country to have the best technology, while not created or invented by them.

The Sharism what he proposes is that if the information and content is shared freely, anyone can point fingers at who copy the idea of another, because they can always attribute name who created it first. Who shares, sheds light on your knowledge, and obviously it is technically possible to know who I believe first.

Today's Internet users have understood the concept and copyright protected including its contents. Q: Do you see an end to censorship in Internetl? A: Although there is information that is without, for example the conflicts in the Middle East, China is changing a lot internally. Let's say there is a change person, because audiences are transformed.

Young people is increasingly connected to the world. There are new technologies, new international media. Travel and meet people. In addition, youth are not so afraid of the government. I want to be optimistic that things will change much over the next three years. Continue to grow the ways to jump censorship, and although it still exists and even hardened, no longer makes sense.

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