Monday, July 17, 2006
India Against Freedom, and the Congress Against Connectivity
"Chickens, Eggs, & Connectivity," by Stephen DeAngelis, Enterprise Resilience Management Blog, 14 July 2006, http://enterpriseresilienceblog.typepad.com/enterprise_resilience_man/2006/07/chickens_eggs_c.html.
"Report: Indian gov blocks Blogspot, Typepad, Geocities blogs," by Xeni Jardin, Boing Boing, 17 July 2006, http://www.boingboing.net/2006/07/17/report_indian_gov_bl.html (from Digg).
In a prescient article last Frday, Enterra cofounder Stephen F. DeAngelis criticized the proposed law Global Online Freedom Act of 2006 that is currently in the House of Representatives. The bill would begin firewalling the Old Core, particularly the United States, away from the New Core, especially China. It would make disconnection in one area (technological freedom) as an excuse to roll-back connectivity in other market arenas. It's a bad idea all around -- it will isolate America from her allies in this Global War against Terrorism, it isolates American businesses from their partners abroad, and by imposing regulations on technology companies it will lesson our nation's advantages over competitors.
Steve's post is worth reading, especially this bit where he emphasizes the need for economic growth. Economic development enables freedom, or as he says
Not only is such a bill likely to make the U.S. even less well liked abroad, it is unlikely to achieve the goals it desires. While some may see it as a chicken-and-egg discussion (which comes first freedom or capitalism?), historically economics have had a greater impact on the politics than vice versa. Whatever Tienanmen Square represents symbollically, Shanghai is the real face of change in China and it is driven by economics. For all intents and purposes, Shanghai is developed, capitalistic, world-class city despite the controls the central government has tried to impose on Internet content.
Don't believe it? Then compare China to India -- both are developing states, but China is a party dictatorship and India is a multiparty democracy. A perfect test case is blogs, and thus it is no surprise that India is attacking free speech on blogs:
India's Department of Telecommunications (DoT) passed an order to ISPs Friday to block several websites. The list is confidential. Indian ISPs have been slowly coming into compliance. SpectraNet, MTNL, Reliance, and as of Monday afternoon, Airtel. State-backed BSNL and VSNL have not started yet but likely will soon. The known list of blocked domains is *.blogspot.com, *.typepad.com and geocities.com/*.
Anyone who believes that a bill that restricts trade with countries that censor information will only hit dictatorships is misguided. Underdeveloped countries generally begin turning on themselves, from China to India to France. Slapping de facto sanctions on those states only hurts their economies -- and their citizens' freedoms -- more.
Support freedom. Support economics. Oppose the Global Online Freedom Act of 2006.