There is a lot of debate going on right now as to whether the Internet ought to be a human right. At first, we talked about the “digital divide” which was a big deal during The Clinton Administration, and Bill Clinton gave a speech at Davos Switzerland about that. Now, there are something in the neighborhood of 4 billion people online. There are more people online than people who aren’t. And within the next five to ten years, it is expected that there will be 6 billion people on the Internet.
Now then, should online communication be a human right something that government pays for, where there is either WiMAX, Wi-Fi, or 4G wireless networks everywhere. That way everyone is constantly in communication anywhere on the planet? Some people are talking about it, and they are very serious. Not long ago, I was watching a TED Video and there are some serious plans to get this done. They say that having access to the Internet, and having worldwide online communication will promote democracy, liberty, and freedom for all of humankind.
Indeed, that might be true, and what if China agrees that online communication is a right and not just a privilege? Does that mean China will provide Internet communication for all its citizens? In many regards a large percentage of the people in China do have access to the Internet, and there are enough Internet cafes that people can use – meaning that well over half their population has some access to the Internet.
Unfortunately don’t have full access to the Internet because China also has a great firewall, and they control the type of information that people are allowed to view. In the US, we would call this censorship, and absolutely unacceptable. But the people in China have lived under central government authority, and ironfisted rule all of their lives, for generations, and they just take whatever the government will give them, and they are happy about that. Yes, that too is changing, as we see from the news which leaks out.
In fact, it’s surprising how much nationalism goes on in China, even though most of the younger generation does realize that the Internet is being censored. Many of them have found ways around it, and even many of the things that the communist government of Red China censors, isn’t really a big deal. They are things that people really do not care about in China anyway. And it’s not as if the Chinese citizens don’t know about Tiananmen Square, they know.
Apparently, China is afraid that their people might overthrow the government, and that is their excuse. However I would submit to you that the people of China are more likely to overthrow the government due to censorship, than any other single issue, at some point in the future, yes, the employment situations, high inflation, food costs, water issues, are also big challenges exacerbating the problems there.
But for now they have plenty of nationalism holding that red fabric together. Indeed, perhaps the human rights aspect of online communication is a moot point in China in the present period, we seem to care about it more than they do. Please consider all this and think on.