Medium for Dissidence

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The Internet has become a means for citizens of closed countries to have contact with external ideas, even when officially prohibited by their governments.


- Incompetence of governments to crack down - Governments realize futility of cracking down on Internet access - Ways around Internet filters (e.g. software programs)


- Laws governing Internet access - Penalties for accessing forbidden information (e.g. prison)


Countries that control what their citizens can access when surfing the Internet include: Syria, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, China, and Iran.

The internet is having a profound impact on closed societies as a forum for minority and dissident views. Though long shut in by UN economic sanctions, and by censorship of its press, at least a fifth of Libya's 5m people now use the internet. Although Syria's police are mean to political dissidents, they are nice to software pirates. For just a dollar, you can buy a program off the streets to cover your internet tracks—and safely get a look at all the forbidden stuff.

The Chinese government has decided to pay more attention to the internet. Many analysts believe that internet outcries last year shaped the government's response to incidents.

Web Resources:

Watch Out: Arabs and the Internet from the Economist

Road Rage, and Web Rage: China from the Economist