A study earlier this year by a group of scholars called the OpenNet Initiative revealed what no one had thought possible: that the Chinese government is succeeding in censoring the net. Its most powerful tool is its control of the routers – the devices through which data is moved from one place to another. With the right filtering systems, these routers can block messages containing forbidden words. Human-rights groups allege that western corporations – in particular Cisco Systems – have provided the technology and the expertise. Cisco is repeatedly cited by Thomas Friedman as one of the facilitators of his global revolution.
…Indispensable as the internet has become, political debate is still dominated by the mainstream media: a story on the net changes nothing until it finds its way into the newspapers or on to TV. What this means is that while the better networking Friedman celebrates can assist a democratic transition, the democracy it leaves us with is filtered and controlled. Someone else owns the routers.