Chinese Netizens add their Voice to Call for a Free and Open Internet
From 3rd December 2012, governments have been meeting in Dubai to take part in the International Telecommunications Union’s (ITU’s) meeting where officials from around the world have been discussing possible changes to international Internet governance.
The ITU, the 147 year-old organisation, which is now a branch of the United Nations is often a forum where developing countries, sometimes with authoritarian regimes who want more Internet control, are often contrasted with the more liberal policies of Western-Europe and North America.
China, Russia and Arab states are amongst those that are pitted against the concerns of the likes of the U.S.A. and her private Internet providers. There is talk of redefining the rules that govern the Web across international boarders. China, which blocks sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, will be one of the powers calling for greater leverage over Internet content and service providers if the changes were backed up by international agreement.
The Internet first became available in China in 1994 and has implemented the Golden Shield Project, commonly referred to as the Great Firewall of China to censor information on the Web since 1998. It was recently found that 12 of the top 100 global websites are blocked within China, ranging from social networks to websites that contain content about contentious issues such as the 1989 Tian’an Men Square protests, Taiwanese and Tibetan independence and Falun Gong.
In response to the conference which could potentially have significant repercussions for global Internet use, the Web-giant Google has set up a campaign calling for global netizens to Take Action and submit the reasons that they think a free and open Internet is important at their Free and Open Web campaign page.
Among those around the world adding their names or aliases to a map with their reasons for supporting an unregulated Internet were a large number of testimonies in Chinese from China, despite the fact that the page has been blocked in mainland China, and those who live there need to pay for sophisticated software to circumvent the Wall. Less creative netizens were offered an automated message (below) written by Google – the message even being posted by one person in Lhasa claiming to be Mao Zedong!
It is ours and it is free, a free and open world depends on a free and open web and a free and open web depends on me.
But others used their own words to express their position on the web. Here are a few voices advocating freedom of speech on the Web from the poster-boy country of Internet censorship:
段海生 － 重庆:
We have no way of accessing YouTube, Twitter, Facebook etc. The service provided by this amazing website, Google, isn’t stable – this really dampens our spirits.
Chian – 南京
The Internet needs freedom, openness and safety.
Dictatorships, ignorant governments and those in power should go screw themselves! Only by handing over your power and inviting the people to supervise you do you deserve the power of making Internet rules.
王伟 － 甘肃
I am opposed to any attempt to control and monitor the Web; protect freedom of speech and personal privacy.
等清清 － 山东
Why doesn’t China have Google? Chinese netizens are like frogs stuck at the bottom of a well. We want China to rise up, be strong and contribute to the world, we don’t want to fall behind in this world, we don’t want to exchange our rights for the progress of the government.
李莉花 － 徐州
In terms of freedom, the government should take care of their own affairs, it shouldn’t be that everything gets controlled by them。
方博论 － 苏州
We need Internet freedom, I want to know a time when I have friends from all places, I want everyone to be able to share their experiences.
Hua C – 深圳
Rise up, protect freedom and openness of the Internet.
James Z － 吕梁
A complex system (e.g. a country) can only be built from the bottom up if it wants to achieve long-term development and prosperity. If an organization wants to implement a system that is controlled from top to down, then it is only a matter of time before it is destroyed. I support anything that will speed up their demise!!! I just want to live under equality and have the freedom to pursue my own happiness.