Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Censorship is always bad

Microsoft and Google have both announced that they will be blocking thousands of search terms in Bing, Yahoo and Google. They claim that it is to block the spread of child porn, certainly a noble cause, but is that really their motivation?

Search-term blocking is very crude. Not only will it block legitimate research and porn searches equally, it is also a broad net that will capture and block information completely unrelated to child porn. Worse, everyone knows that this censorship will have absolutely no effect on the distribution of child porn.

These companies know that child porn is distributed almost exclusively on the Dark Net. Child porn consumers don't search openly on Google or any popular search engine, nor do purveyors distribute their wares openly on these platforms. So why are these two US companies acclimating the populace to censorship? 

Maybe I’m just getting paranoid, but I think "stopping child porn" is just the sales pitch for the introduction of censorship in general. 

As we now know, the US government monitors all internet traffic and cell phone activity in the Homeland, snooping on every detail in the lives of it’s own citizens and even top-ranking visiting dignitaries. Furthermore, all of the world's wireless communication platforms are controlled by US companies who must comply with US law to continue to exist: Google (Android), Microsoft (Windows Phone 8), Apple (iOS). No matter where in the world these devices are sold or used, the US can dictate terms through these US-based companies. US companies also control the most popular and comprehensive search engines. If ever there was a monopoly, this is it, the US government control over global communication systems, and it deserves careful scrutiny. This degree of information control is especially dangerous. 

The proposed censorship will be a fluid policy and it will quietly include any topic not deemed to be in the best interest of the US government ... suppression of stories critical to US interests, and even criticism of western social orthodoxies, like feminism. A little pseudo-intellectual rationalization will easily fabricate a link between child porn and the criticism of feminism. 

The European Union is already trying to ban criticism of feminism, and Norway and Sweden intend to make anti-feminism speech punishable as hate speech, equivalent to racism. It doesn't matter that, unlike race and gender, no one is born a feminist. Feminism is just an ideological movement that one may join or leave at will. Should it also be a hate crime to criticize Liberalism or Conservatism?

This "child porn" censorship will evolve in ways similar to a Bill passing through Congress, except that the details will be hidden. As usual, the powerful will insist on additions to the censorship list to serve their own interests, all under the guise of stopping exploitation of children. Anyone who opposes censorship will be accused of defending child pornographers.

Censorship is always bad. It infantilizes the target, which is everyone who uses a search engine, and assumes that the censor not only knows what's good for you, but will act in your best interest. Have we not had enough proof that officials will misuse this kind of power? 

The motive to censor the public is always to put power in the hands of the Censor. In this information age and knowledge economy, that power is nearly limitless, and those at the controls will misuse it. History knows no exception to this.