Western Technologies Controlling Eastern Countries

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In response to political unrest in the Middle East, many countries have restricted Internet access in order to control protesters. The OpenNet Initiative carried out a research focused on how countries use network filtering to control the flow of online content. The authors have analyzed the use of American- and Canadian- software in the Middle East and North Africa. Nine countries in the region utilize Western-made tools to block over 20 million Internet users from accessing Websites showing prohibited political and social content.

Internet filtering can be used by schools or parents to protect their children, by companies to control their employees Internet access, by governments to shape and track the flow of information at national level. The urgent issue is that filtering technologies are tending to be repurposed by governments to achieve a state-sanctioned censorship. It is good if it is targeted at protecting minors from pornography. But if filtering tools and services are used to censor search engine results by request of national governments, the freedom of expression seems to be doubtful. Especially if the filtering technology is being built and supported by Western countries, advocates of human rights and free flow of information.

People try to find their own solutions to unblock Websites: strong VPN connections, anonymous web proxy. But the global answer to the question lies with the leadership of companies that produce filtering software. Such companies must be aware of the role they play in the global community and put their policies towards protecting the Internet privacy along with technical development.


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