Throughout history there are numerous examples of how totalitarian regimes have maintained their power by filtering information and keeping the people in the dark.
According to Human Rights Watch (Human Rights Watch
) government control of information is still one of the most important obstacles for freedom and democracy in many countries worldwide. However, this way of manipulating a people was easier in the past, when information was limited to more controllable media. But as the information flow became ether-carried the enforcement became a challenge for the regimes. The Nazi-control of wireless transmissions from London during WW2, and the way the East German communist regime tried to keep people from watching Western TV are good examples of how totalitarian systems had to take desperate measures to control airborne information.
Over the last decades the situation has become even harder for those who need to filter information for the people. The Internet has made all sorts of information accessible nearly anywhere. Still many authorities try to censor internet information, like in China where certain Google sites are blocked. “The Great Firewall of China” is an article published by the Washington Post ( Race to the Bottom (Washington Post) listing keywords that are seen as offensive or inappropriate by the Chinese authorities.
So where does this leave us regarding information for or about people living in suppressed conditions? The struggle for freedom and democracy is about taking a just stand in a conflict and for that, objective information is essential. Full access to information is an indisputable human right, so with the Internet we are certainly moving in the right direction.
However, the situation may not be that simple. Certain sources of information will perhaps blur the picture and even be both simplified and subjective. Today we are up against a flow of easily accessible net information posted by anyone who would like to air their opinion. Navigating through the jungle of twits, leaks, or blogs is like crossing the river on slippery stepping stones. It seems now that the extent of attention an issue deserves equals the number of followers on Twitter or the volume of a Facebook group. Anyone may openly, or in most cases actually anonymously, chip in for any imaginable cause that pops up. The question is whether this massive tsunami of information will serve the cause or not. If there is some movement towards democracy, be it in Burma or Tunisia ( Tunisians don’t need advice from the Twittering classes (spiked-online.com), one can trust the twitters and bloggers to take credit for it, derserved or not. In most cases probably underserved.
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