The Great Firewall: Censorship & Free Speech

Ni hao! Privet! Salam! Thank you to all who attended to the first meeting of the year. Discussion […]

Ni hao! Privet! Salam!

Thank you to all who attended to the first meeting of the year. Discussion over Libya and the Arab Spring was super impressive from the new members and we are excited to continue the debate! If you could not attend the meeting, there is no need to fret because a new discussion awaits.

This Week

Come join us this Wednesday at 7:30pm in CAS 222 to discuss Censorship and Freedom of Speech with case studies on China, Iran & Russia.

Media projects devoted to the analysis of media reform in China, specifically the China Media Project and ChinaGeeks, prompted us to take a more in depth look on censorship and freedom of the press in China and in other societies. Censorship by governments can be argued to be synonymous with control, which comes to no surprise when analyzing the governance styles of China, Iran and Russia. While microbloggers are starting to have a say in the internet sphere, the People’s Republic of China is among the most stringent with internet censorship in the world. The government “blocks Web sites that discuss the Dalai Lama, the 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen Square protesters, Falun Gong, the banned spiritual movement, and other Internet sites” (NYTimes). With the recent revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa, the Chinese government tightened its grip on communications demonstrating their determination to maintain their authority.

Second to China’s internet censorship is the repressive regime of Iran. Beyond blocking communication and information to its citizens, “the Iranian government appears to be engaging in a practice often called deep packet inspection, which enables authorities to not only block communication but to monitor it to gather information about individuals, as well as alter it for disinformation purposes, according to these experts” (Wall Street Journal).

Russia presents an interesting case study; Russia is generally believed to have a fairly open society, but the state has an iron grip on major media outlets especially television. Although Russia is nowhere near the internet restraints of China and Iran, the web is seen only as partly free. However, the situation is better in Russia than the former Soviet central Asia where their level of freedom of press and internet censorship can be matched to China’s.

Points to Consider

-How is censorship ideologically or religiously based?
-Should the US government place any restrictions on Internet information available to its citizens?
-To what degree is freedom of speech (or lack of) a concern for societies, especially those with a marked authoritarian historical presence?

More information

-China Media Project:
-China Geeks:
-OpenNet Initiative on China:
-OpenNet Initiative on Iran:
-OpenNet Initiative on Russia:
-Pictures of Iranian Censorship:


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Upcoming Events

Ten Years after 9/11: Security and America
The IAA is hosting an expert panel of professors on 9/11 and how the change in approach to keeping America safe has shaped the past decade. We will discuss US efforts abroad and at home to keep Americans safe, and whether these efforts, from wars to wiretapping, have been for the better or not. Join us Thursday September 22 from 5:30 to 7pm for this exciting event. More details to follow.

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Until Wednesday!