Global Voices Online founder Rebecca MacKinnon spoke at the ongoing TEDGlobal conference about cultivating the “citizen-centric” evolution of the Internet. She argues that “the relationship between citizens and government is mediated through the Internet, which is comprised primarily of privately owned and operated services”, and begins by contrasting Apple’s “1984” Superbowl ad with its more recent removal of the Dalai Lama’s iPhone app from the Chinese App Store.
“Now, in China, you have the “great firewall”, as it’s well known, that blocks Facebook and Twitter and now Google+ and many other overseas websites, and that’s done in part with the help from Western technology, but that’s only half of the story.
“The other part of the story are requirements that the Chinese government places on all companies operating on the Chinese Internet known as a system of self-discipline—in plain English, that means censorship and surveillance of their users. And this is a ceremony I actually attended in 2009 where the Internet Society of China presented awards to the top 20 companies which are best at exercising self-discipline, i.e. policing their content, and Robin Li, CEO of Baidu, China’s dominant search engine, was one of the recipients.”
See also the main page for TEDGlobal 2011.