Friday, November 17, 2006

Re-repressed

The Chinese-language version of Wikipedia was made available to the country of China yesterday after enduring a year long ban, Reuters reported. Unfortunately the ban was reinstated before the Wikipedians even had the time to update their article on the subject, which ends with the November, 16 2006 Reuters report. The block has not yet been made official by the government and the reasons behind it remain a mystery, AsiaMedia.com reports. So for now, Chinese citizens will continue to be denied the right to read about events they lived through.

Unlike Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, Wikipedia refused succumb to China's free speech violations in order to remain in business with them. The founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales told The Observer why he chose to withstand China's censorship requests:
Wales said censorship was "antithetical to the philosophy of Wikipedia. We occupy a position in the culture that I wish Google would take up, which is that we stand for the freedom for information, and for us to compromise I think would send very much the wrong signal: that there's no one left on the planet who's willing to say 'You know what? We're not going to give up.'"
It is interesting to see new media intersecting so vividly with something as repressive as the current Chinese government. Can a government control something as powerful as the Internet? That seems like a mighty ambitious plan. It is hard to say how long the so-called Great Firewall of China can last in a world that thrives on communication.

Wales truly is a crusader of notion that the Internet's purpose is to advance "the free flow of information." Hopefully Wikipedia will help to inspire companies like Google to re-examine their decisions, which was widely criticized by Amnesty International in the Irepressible.Info campaign.

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