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Good and Evil are in battle over our internet. Good, in this case, will be represented by freedom of information. This leaves Evil with the difficult job of censorship. During the last years, it seemed as if Evil is fighting a losing battle. Last time, I’ve mentioned how the media moguls are losing grip over the media channels, and how we are now exposed to more sources of information than ever before. This means freedom is increasing.

However, I neglected to mention a danger brewing on the infrastructure of the Internet. As more and more of our information is moving onto the net, we are losing other ways of communication. There are no substitutes to the Internet. As distributed as the content on the Internet is, the gateways into it are few and well controlled, and the few that once controlled news channels are replaced by a few who control the Internet.

I’m talking about Internet censorship. The most famous operation of this kind is the Great Firewall of China, playfully named after the great wall, is, in fact, no laughing matter. Google took a relatively bad hit for complying to the demands of the People republic of China. The company’s mantra of Don’t be Evil has been tarnished so badly, that it is no longer recognized with the company any more. Google is now a little bit evil.

Censorship is a slippery slope. Censoring illegal activity, for example, sounds like a good idea, when “illegal” refers to pedophilia. It sounds terrible when it is “illegal” to disagree with the government. Where do we draw the line?

Big brother is always watching

Technology is not on the side of good. Technology is impartial. That is why I love computers so much. They’ll never hate me for who I am (even though some people will feel otherwise). The same technology that powers our search engines and the plethora of new semantic ad placement algorithms, is now creeping into internet blockers. As technology gets better, more and more countries will be able to deploy their own net over the net, and filter out any “bad influence”. There will be no need for the army of cheep labor that China can command, and we’ll see it more often. Heck, even Australia has a system in place to automatically flag websites.

In some countries there is a desperate need for a way to bypass these filters. During the Iranian election, the only means of communication between people had been sites like Twitter and YouTube. You’ve seen how well the news reported the issues.

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Real-time is faster, for now

For now, the manual filters are slow. No matter how many people you can put on the filtering side, there will be more people on the information broadcasting side. So, in the mean time, the real-time media is faster than the governmental firewall. This is why real-time media is so important. For a long time I’ve been looking at Facebook, Twitter, etc. as places to go to when I’m bored. But where speech is NOT free, Twitter and FriendFeed are the only way to get around censorship. That is why China turned off Twitter, completely.

We need a way to bypass the Internet. Only by doing to the Internet gateways what blogs did to news sites, we will ensure the victory of Good.