China Tells Internet Caf
How would you feel if every time you used a public telephone (do those still exist?) or checked into a hotel, your photo was taken and sent to the government? To better crack down on undesirable Internet users, that’s exactly what’s happening in China.
Only Beijing so far, but the government has required Internet café owner to photograph everyone who comes in, and that picture is sent along with personal info for storage in a government database. The goal is to crack down on “inappropriate” material and remove some more of the anonymity from Internet use.
Likely, those pesky protest bloggers like to use Internet cafés. What’s extra interesting is that people were only stubbornly private for a short period of time. One café owner said his place was like an empty classroom—for about a month. Faced with no internet or the government watching their every move, people began to choose being monitored.
Sounds a bit like the Stockholm Syndrome.
It’d be nice to say stuff like this only happens in China and in places like it, but, fellow Americans, it sure seems on a state and national level the Land of the Free is steady losing freedoms when it comes to (because of?) the Internet.
In New York, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, again in the name of combating child porn, is pushing ISPs to help him spy on Internet users via deep packet inspection—or scanning every file across their networks. This comes after Cuomo required ISPs to block access to Usenet for the same reason, even though child predators were present on a tiny (less than one percent) part of Usenet.
Cuomo must be taking a cue from Britain, where the government has asked ISPs to store all Internet and email traffic, or maybe even from Kentucky, where the governor claimed the authority to seize international domains to fight online gambling. Or maybe Cuomo liked how the US DOJ handled terrorism by installing spies at AT&T and bullying (bullying’s too strong—more like asked for) records out of Verizon.
Um, it’s October 17, 2008, do you know what your government’s doing?