Liberation Technology.doc

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Political Science
Jeffrey Kopstein

Liberation Technology - death of Sun provoked national debate about the “custody and repatriation” (C&R) measures that allowed the police to detain rural migrants for lacking a residency or temporary living permit - june 2003> the government announced it would close all of the more 800 C&R detention centers - capture of journalists (4) triggered an unprecedented campaign for their release and established a website, the open constitutional intiative to post documents and legal arguments about the case - all reflected a defend-rights movement - “liberation technology”- to empower individuals facilitate independent communication and mobilization and strengthen an emergent civil society - Pessimists argue that nothing in China has fundamentally changed - CCP remains firmly in control - Authoritarian states have acquired (and shared) impressive technical capabilities to filter and control the internet and to punish disenter - democrats and autocrats now compete to master these technologies - liberation technology is any form of information and communication technology (ICT) that can expand political, social and economic freedom - now means essentially the modern interrelated forms of digital ICT - In the end technology is merely a tool, open to both noble and nefarious purposes - Mobilizing against authoritarian rule represents only one possible “liberating” use of digital ICT - Before mobilization for democracy peaks, these tools may help to widen the public sphere, creating a more pluralistic and autonomous arena of new etc Malaysia: Widening the Public Sphere - crucial pillar of authoritarian rule is control of information - freedom house has documented Malaysia lacks freedom of the press - repressive laws severly constrain freedom to report - as a rapidly developing country with high literacy, Malaysia has witnessed explosive growth of internet access - combination of tight government control of the conventional media, widespread internet access and relative freedom on the internet created an opening for online journalism in Malaysia - two journalists launched Malaysiakini, where (nov 99) Malaysians were able to read about Taboo- subjects - while today Malaysia is no less authoritarian, it is more competive and possibly closer to a democratic breakthrough Opening a Public Sphere - China’s “Great Firewall” of a internet filtering and control prevents the rise of an independent public sphere online - China has not the world’s largest population of internet users (more than 380 million people) - Has the worlds most extensive “multilayered: and sophisticated system for censoring, monitoring and controlling activities on the internet and mobile phones - They cut off anything that might challenge the CCP’s monopoly on power - Access to critical websites and online reporting is systematically blocked - Chinese companies agree to even tighter self-censorship than do international companies - Party-state is trying to eliminate anonymous communication and networking - Regime pays a quarter of a million online hacks to post favourable comments about the party-state and report negative comments - Too much communication and censoring for the state to monitor and censor it all - March 2010> google with drawed its online services from mainland China after failing to resolve its conflict with the government over censorships and cyber attacks - The public sphere in China involves much more “tweets’ often linking to longer blogs, discussion groups and news reports - Some sites are harder to block because their critiques of the CCP’
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