The internet has changed and I don’t mean in a good way. Sure there are now loads more quality sites, tons of fantastic applications and media shows streamed online than there used to be. However as the technology and the investment have poured into these sites so has the censorship and filtering.
From a commercial level, providers like the BBC, Hulu, Pandora and NBC have produced some truly stunning web sites – however they have also decided to block access to the majority of the world. It used to be true that you could upload a web site and it was accessible to all, it didn’t matter if you were in a cyber cafe in Nepal or an apartment in New York. The web was the same for everyone, we were all equal and accessed the same thing.
But the filtering was not just done on a money making commercial premise. We have seen the power of the internet in the Arab Spring uprisings and dictators and undemocratic governments are scared. You’ll find across the world – Nations are increasingly controlling the internet feeds into their countries. From China, Iran to Thailand and across the Middle East – sites are being blocked and censored. In Turkey hundred of sites are not accessible on religious or political grounds. Even countries like Australia are putting in measure to block content they deem inappropriate.
Of course there are some nasty, evil stuff on the internet – but more effort seems to be made to block rather than catch and arrest the people behind these sites. The reality is that all filtering does is create two tiers those who know how to bypass the blocks and those who don’t. The internet is full of demonstrations on how you can use technology to sidestep these filters – check out some of the posts on this site for example - http://www.theninjaproxy.org/
You’ll see how easy it is to use systems to keep your internet conenction secure, private and at the same time bypass all these stupid filters. Of course the systems usually cost money to use, so although not expensive for poorer countries it can be too much.