In the wake of the riots, several British Conservative MPs, and indeed PM David Cameron himself, have suggested a harsher regime of state control of both messenger services and social networks. Their suggestions have attracted widespread derision from almost everybody who either knows something about the Internet and communications more broadly, or who places any value on freedom of speech, assembly and communication and regards these things as foundational to any democratic society.
However, the a yet vague proposals have gained support from one quarter: China. The Chinese state-controlled media have suggested that the Conservative Party’s undemocratic suggestions prove that the Chinese state was right all along about controlling the Internet and that now these events are causing liberal democracies to support the Chinese model of highly regulated provision (via Boing Boing).
This is pretty much what I have been suggesting is happening for the last 2 or 3 years – see here, here, here and here. It is just that now, the pretense of democratic communication is being dropped by western governments. And just in case David Cameron doesn’t get it – and he really does not appear to right now, no, it is not a good thing that the Chinese government likes your ideas: it makes you look undemocratic and authoritarian.
2 thoughts on “Guess who likes the UK’s proposals to control the Internet?”
This so fits in with my first feelings the moment this fracas started — that the very hegemony of the ‘brand’ commodity culture (surely the real ‘cultural politics’ behind these events) is the thing that produced the wealth most of the disparaging commentators currently enjoy. It is, after all, the latest response to the last-but-one crisis in capitalism, this spread of mass-market exclusiveness (with all the contradictions that implies). When these commodities replace community and self-creation as identity-resources, why wouldn’t these self-same commodities be the targets of such actions. After all, many of these things (televisions, mobile phones, fashion goods) were the same type of things that British politicians helped themselves to using their parliamentary allowances (illegally).
The point of this,however, is that by attacking the ISPs and social networking in particular, the Tories will attack the very new infrastructure they are increasingly using to get elected in the first place.
In this sense, we are all in this together — and perhaps this is just the price society pays for ‘subscribing’ to these strange new public/private technologies.