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AMERICAN INTERNET STRATEGY: THE WEST CAN DO WHAT OTHERS CAN’T

AMERICAN INTERNET STRATEGY: THE WEST CAN DO WHAT OTHERS CAN’T

Iran is a leading candidate to become a target for the next «orange revolution». No wonder the Iranian government has taken a decision to enhance control over the Net. The measures are to be of rather radical, fundamental character. Reza Taghipour, the Iranian minister for Information and Communications Technology, said that the set up of Iran’s own national network was a priority in the new Iranian year. He added the system was to be launched in June. Actually the issue under consideration is the creation of sovereign internet independent from the outside world. Besides countering direct propaganda as part of intensive information wars, Iran is to sift all data related to the «Western values». According to Iranian authorities, Internet is a tool for spreading «amoral» and «inciting» ideas. Taking such extreme steps is the only way to counter it. China boasts more resources, it has successfully solved the problem, though the launching of «sovereign Internet» is not on the agenda list. According to official sources, the «Great Chinese Firewall» and the «Golden Shield» projects are aimed at blocking pornography, gambling and different kinds of criminal activities. In parallel any information threatening the stability of political regime is to be blocked too. Massive data flows are to be handled by multi-layer architecture — search engines autonomously operating in China. In case these conditions are unacceptable a company cannot operate on the Chinese territory, like it was in the case of Google in 2010.

Naturally Iranian and Chinese efforts has not gone unnoticed by the USA. It announced the allocation of $19 million in 2011 for developing technologies designed to break through «sovereign internets» defense barriers. The strategy has already cost $180 million. It has produced the first prototypes of «Internet in a suitcase.» technology — a rather compact, autonomous system connecting to Internet via satellite. It can be used everywhere. President Barack Obama said Iran established «an electronic curtain» to stop «the free flow of information and ideas» and promised the US government would take new steps to clear he way for Iranians to have access to «free information».

The State Department regularly finds reasons to criticize China and Iran for Internet censorship. But it says nothing about no less evident facts of curtailing Internet access freedom in satellite states. On September 30 last year a nineteen years old Serb received a one month jail sentence for leaving the «Kosovo is Serbia’ post on the president Tadic’s Facebook page. The US doesn’t extend the «free Internet» but, to the contrary, goes on curbing it.

The Federal legislation allows mail interception without court order as well as tracking an individual’s location. The same kind of steps are taken at the states level. The Arizona’s House of Representatives approved a bill that makes some online comments illegal. It forbids «to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use any electronic or digital device... with intent to ... offend.» The document doesn’t specify how to distinguish an «annoying» word from an acceptable one. The bill sparked a wave of indignation — now anyone can be punished for anything. The legal proceedings could be started without the statement of the «victim», the state authorities could initiate the process on their own.

Bringing to justice for online comments becomes common practice in the USA. For instance, on April 5 US Marine Gary Stein was recommended for discharge after posting critical online remarks about President Barack Obama. He called Obama «a coward» and expressed hope somebody else would become president. The same thing takes place in Europe. The strange «Toulouse shooter» story sparked a debate on legal responsibility for visiting extremist’s websites.

Thus, it’s not only «authoritarian regimes» who try to control the Net. The Western democracies are also part of the process. The majority of nations apply efforts to safeguard their information sovereignty at the time the US is intensifying activities aimed at penetration of the countries Internet space.

 

 

 

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