Supply-side anti-censorship

Brad Tempelton explains why a censor should want an imperfect filter — it should be good enough to keep verboten information from most users, but easy enough to circumvent to tempt dissidents, so they can be tracked and when desired, put away.

In the second half of the post, Tempelton suggests some anti-censor techniques: ubiquitous and . Fortunately he says these are “far off” and “does not scale”, respectively. To say the least, I’d add.

Cyber-activists have long dreamed that strong encryption would thwart censorship. is an example of a project that uses this as its raison d’être. While I’m a huge fan of ubiquitous encryption and decentralization (please install , now!), these seem like terribly roundabout, means of fighting censorship — the price of obtaining information, which includes the chance of being caught, is lowered. But someone has to seek out or have the information pushed to them in the first place. If information is only available via hidden channels, how many people will encounter it regardless of lower risk?

An alternative, perhaps less sexy because it involves no technology adoption, is supply-side anti-censorship: make verboten information ubiquitous. Anyone upset about should publish information the Communist Party wants censored (my example is pathetic, need to work on that). This is of course not mutually exclusive with continuing to carp and dream of techno-liberation.

I guess I’m calling for projects. Or one of those chain letters (e.g, “four things”) that plagues the blogosphere.

2 Responses

  1. […] Not the context I imagined, but Boing Boing is calling for supply side anti-censorship: What happens when the blogosphere uses so much tasteful nudity that the web is unusable for SmartFilter users? What happens when SmartFilter blocks so much content that the web is crippled for its users? […]

  2. […] It gladdens me to see that, an Amnesty International campaign “to show that online or offline the human voice and human rights are impossible to repress”, includes a supply-side anti-censorship component: If you have a website or blog, help us spread the word and undermine unwarranted censorship by publishing censored material from our database directly onto your site. […]

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