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Headline: China Squelches Internet With Censorship

As the Beijing Olympics near, the Chinese government is cracking down on dissent by banning methods of protest it deems dangerous: YouTube, MySpace, Flickr, Blogspot, and Wikipedia. Known casually as the Great Firewall, the government has been systematically tightening controls on the internet, even over websites that have no apparent political content.

The government censorship may be accomplishing the opposite effect: Instead of increasing obedience and conformity, the action is creating rebels. People who might not have been political are now bucking the system, publishing "cheat codes" to circumnavigate the government lockdown. It's uncertain how far the Chinese government will reach in order to control information — earlier this year, Wei Wenhua was clubbed to death by city inspectors for taking cell phone pictures of an attack by the city inspectors on villagers who were trying to block city trucks from unloading garbage near their homes. It's thought that Wei was the sort of "citizen journalist" Chinese authorities now seek to control.

Is the Chinese government encouraging stronger dissent by these restrictions? Given that the internet is a global forum, how should these kinds of freedom of expression issues be handled? Would you tolerate government interference in your web-surfing?


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