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Britain's U-turn over web-monitoring


12:50, August 13, 2011

BEIJING, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- Following days of violent riots in Britain, speculation has grown as to why and how the trouble spread so rapidly.

Apparently the rioters used social media, like Twitter, Facebook and the Blackberry messenger system and Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday he's looking at banning potential troublemakers from using the online services.

The British government, once an ardent advocate of absolute Internet freedom, has thus made a U-turn over its stance towards web-monitoring.

Communications tools such as Facebook and cellphones also played a delicate role in the massive social upheaval earlier this year in north Africa and neighboring west Asian countries, whose governments then imposed targeted censorship over message flows on the Internet.

In a speech delivered in Kuwait in February, the British prime minister, however, argued that freedom of expression should be respected "in Tahrir Square as much as Trafalgar Square."

Learning a hard lesson from bitter experience, the British government eventually recognized that a balance needs to be struck between freedom and the monitoring of social media tools.

Cameron himself admitted that the "free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill."

"And when people are using social media for violence, we need to stop them," he told lawmakers Thursday.

We may wonder why western leaders, on the one hand, tend to indiscriminately accuse other nations of monitoring, but on the other take for granted their steps to monitor and control the Internet.

They are not interested in learning what content those nations are monitoring, let alone their varied national conditions or their different development stages.

Laying undue emphasis on Internet freedom, the western leaders become prejudiced against those "other than us," stand ready to put them in the dock and attempt to stir up their internal conflicts.

With no previous practice, the world is still exploring effective solutions to Internet monitoring.

"Technology has no morality," observed Emma Duncan, deputy editor of The Economist.

And the Internet is also a double-edged sword that cuts both ways. For the benefit of the general public, proper web-monitoring is legitimate and necessary.


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Leave your comment9 comments

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PD User at 2011-08-162.29.43.*
The riots in the England we due to people not liking the police, they were not prepared and seen as the budget for the police has been cut drastically they have had limited on riot equipment, and a big cut on staff.The riot was no evil plot, it was meant to be a protest that went wrong due to drunken lunatics, and youths seeing the decline in police spending as a chance to riot.Also we western people don"t see are selves as the "enlightened" as some are saying. It is just because some Americans bible bash their culture and we all hate it and i"m sure the east hates their cultural raves also.Also about the internet censorship that has been brought up on this site, it was just a governmental idea, but now they are focusing on finding out terrorist websites that are promoting terrorismi"m just a teenager, but no matter what difference in governments i think we should see past each others ideas and just get along :)peace out :)
james at 2011-08-15120.166.43.*
British prime minister is one who is still very young to become a politician ,he lack of the wisdom, now he recognizes that the Internet should be limited, but all this was too late, which has tarnished the image of english .Rights, freedom of speech, etc., it"s all just a tool used by the west to pressure developing countries , to achieve their sneaky goal .
karma at 2011-08-15120.166.39.*
The West is always using the internet as the weapon, but today its turned against them, this is called karma.
Marco_France at 2011-08-1577.202.142.*
Yes, a very hypocritical call coming from the UK. I"m sure many other Western countries will soon head down the path of internet cencership
rhoward at 2011-08-1476.65.28.*
Nothing surprising about this. When the West first met the indigenous people of the Americas, they were "surprised" they never heard of Jesus, and immediately concluded they were devil worshippers, and could therefore be freely murdered and robbed. Nothing has changed now. The same ignorance is pervasive in the West. Always think they are the enlightened people, the chosen ones who are innately superior to control and lord on other people.

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