Does Blog Censorship Work?

It’s hard to imagine a world where blogs are censored. Just the other day an Egyptian blogger was incarcerated for speaking against government and violating some kind of islamic laws. Now China’s cracking down on blogs in general. Although this is far from surprising it just goes to show the cultural divide that exists between democratic countries with advanced IT and developing countries under more authoritarian regimes.

I suppose the irony is that in most democratic countries the collective din of all these bloggers ranting and criticizing government doesn’t really harm or help government in any direct way. There are lots of influential bloggers in the United States but do any of them hold enough sway to influence American politics? I’d say that an influential television commentator with their own TV show holds much more sway. Despite the rise of blogs George W. Bush was easily elected to his second term. We’ll have to see how much of an effect blogs and social networks have this time around.

Will censorship help these regimes? Wouldn’t it be better to let blogs flourish and let the frustrations run their course? Or is the oppression too strong that giving people an outlet like a blog only the harbinger for greater turmoil and revolt against the government?

With blogs, even in anonymity, you have single voice behind the thoughts. Censorship of blogs will only move the field of action to anonymous forums and IMs. Can the “Great Firewall of China” really remain effective or will it suffer the fate of the real Great Wall and simply leave a landmark of a failed exercise?

Censorship and persecution of bloggers make martyrs of regular people. Just like the Tiananmen Square activists originally started out as public mourning for a fallen political figure, personal rants against authority are elevating regular bloggers into political activists fighting for democracy against government.

Maybe we’ll see a new form of censorship take form to give the illusion of free speech. In any case we’ll see if information technology truly has the force to push strict political regimes to allow greater personal freedom. My view is that censorship will push anti-government movements underground but not be able to mobilize a full scale revolution unless they are backed strong rebel leaders with the required military/guerilla power. However, it will allow them to thrive for the time when government weakens and allows for change.

China will intensify controls of the growing numbers of bloggers
using the internet to lay bare their thoughts, politics and even
bodies, the country’s chief censor has announced.
The director of China’s General Administration of Press and
Publication, Long Xinmin, said the administration was forming rules
to further regulate internet publishing, including the country’s
legions of bloggers, the Beijing Morning Post reported on
Tuesday.

China ramps up blog censorship – web – Technology – smh.com.au