Internet and Democracy

This week’s reading focuses on the impact of the Internet on democracy. With the widespread of Internet use, many issues are brought up concerning the good and bad effects which the Internet may cause. Just think about the time we spend on the Internet every day, it is not hard to find out how great influence the Internet could have on our daily life. Democracy is long-lasting topic here in the United States. From a developing country which was talked about in the paper with “authoritarian deliberation” displayed on web censorship, I have not really thought about what democratic issue the Internet could cause before I read the paper.

 From my personal view, the most outstanding advantage which Internet brings to us is to disseminate information, including word-of-mouth. To some extent, it helps to amplify the voice of the public. While the author is trying to say is that on the way of spreading public words, the Internet does not work as well as we expected it to be. The existence of Internet censorship and cyber attacks prevent some sensitive information from spreading, especially some political websites attacking military and government targets and even gay websites. Due to my background, I could verify it is true in the country where I am from. Information containing sensitive words  related to political events or some political figure could not be found on web. The governemnt has had those relevant sources under control. Even though some sources could be published at the first time, not after a long time, it will be removed or blocked. These things often happen in some countries without strong democratic systems. One result would be users turn to other websites which are not blocked for information. For example, as a Chinese Internet user, I can still get information blocked from some websites abroad. Even though some users do not have access to other websites, there are still some Internet users who saw the sensitive information before it was blocked. Then, these people became third party communicators. After all, there are too many channels users can make use of online, the government could not get through every corner of the Internet.  Since the globe is conveniently combined together due to the Internet, these situations could be relieved by the help of nongovernmental organizations. Joint efforts could be made in pursuit of a more democratic world.

Another possible result is that Internet censorship would be improved by mutual trust, including trust between Internet users and trust between the government and users. From government’s standing point, it doing this for stability of a society. As what Chinese government said, dissemination of some information could easily cause panic of the public or harmful to public stability. But once the public and government have more trust to each other. It may change the Internet to a place where freedom of speech could be put into practice. It sounds impossible till now, but we will see. .

Here is some links I found related to our reading.

This one is about the Internet censorship in China. http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/news/international/countriesandterritories/china/internet_censorship/index.html It brough up the issue  why Google wanted to cease its operations in China and how it ended like.

Here is another link about “China defends internet censorship”. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8727647.stm It is from BBC news. In the document presented by Chinese government, it stated the reasons why citizens cannot have access to these websites. 

I would say different countries have different regulations and different realities.  It is hard to say right or wrong.

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August 29, 2010. Uncategorized.

4 Comments

  1. Mindy McAdams replied:

    This post is too long (585 words; see Required Work). You could edit out some things that do not really say anything new or original. For example, read the first four sentences. Chop! Cut them out! 🙂

    Paragraph 2: How does the Internet help us disseminate “word-of-mouth”? That seems a little strange. The rest of paragraph 2 is very interesting! I would love to learn more about the “third party communicators” — I wonder how they manage to spread the information without taking too big a risk.

    What you wrote about trust is also very good.

    Next time, please integrate your links into your post — don’t leave them until the end. It’s easier to connect your link and your idea if they are together.

    Both of your links here are good, and they come from good sources. HOWEVER … they are both about Internet censorship in China. The assignment told you to discuss two different things and supply one link for each of those two.

  2. chentingchen replied:

    I like the “word-of-mouth” aspect you pointed out. There is no way any government can completely block all the channels where people use to communicate. I think the power of people pursuing freedom will be unstopable. Just the time matters. Like I said in my blog, “the slow revolution” now is getting into action. Technology is one way, word-of-mouth is an other necessary way to against the government.
    The other thing is, I am curious about how your opinion changes before and after studying abroad. And, with the word-of-mouth access, do people who don’t have digital technology to access the world be affected by democratic wave?

  3. morganyang replied:

    It seems that we both look at the bright side of the Internet and democracy in China! I have read the link you provided and found that the Chinese government has its own points toward the existance of censorship. I have to admit that they seem resonable at first. Just like the white paper from Chinese government mentioned, Chinese government wants to “curb” the harmful effects of illegal information on state security, public interests and children. But there are some questions, whom to decide and how to define what kind of information poses harmful affects on state security, public interests and children? And doesn’t those democrstic states have the same threat that they’ll fear about the illigal information could do harm to the state, public and children. Why they didn’t use the censorship? I know those questions will be a challenge to Chinese government. But I also know that China is an unique country. It can be told from the special economic system they have, the so called “Socialist market economy”. This system is the output from the confront of Communism and the trend of market economy. I believe that China will melt and blend the conflicts between freedom of speech on Internet and it’s state authority and surprise us with a new creation.

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