Control, halt, delete

Excellent piece on the increasing number of countries which are controlling their citizens’ use of the Internet.

The number of such states is in the dozens, researchers say. In Burma and Moldova, governments recently resorted to pulling the plug on mobile phone networks amid unrest magnified by text messages; in Uzbekistan, there is widespread suspicion of internet monitoring but few ways to prove it. That is despite the fact that a lot of the surveillance and security software in the hands of governments across the world comes from western suppliers. In what is by its nature among the most globalised of industries, technology companies are seeing a revenue boost from governmental interest in data mining, search and storage products, though they periodically draw fire from activists for assisting repressive states.

The most gripping evidence of the change at hand has come from Iran. The theocratic regime has been in a protracted struggle over the free flow of information and communication with many of its largely young urban populace since the day after this month’s disputed election.

The piece focusses mainly on Iran and China, but it’s a good general survey.