Authoritarian regimes hate the internet. Oh, but they like some parts of it — like the ability to track people, the ability to contact other regimes secretly, Ashley Madison, etc. But they hate other parts of it, like that pesky “people able to say whatever they want” thing.
Now, China — along with other human rights luminaries and bastions of freedom like Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan — have introduced a kind of “internet code of conduct” they want every country to sign that would be enforced by the U.N.
The opening of the document states that “policy authority for internet-related public issues is the sovereign right of states” — i.e. we want people to shut up and use the internet the way we tell them to, and we’d like you to help us enforce that. Then comes the real corker:
[Signatories will] curb the dissemination of information that incites terrorism, secession-ism, or extremism, or that undermines other countries’ political, economic, and social stability, as well as their spiritual and cultural environment.
In other words, anybody who signs this document basically agrees to censor anybody who says bad things about the Chinese or the Russians, etc. that they don’t like or can’t reach out and touch with threats. It’s unlikely this will get very far; mostly it’ll be championed by other countries that aggressively attempt to root out dissent. Still, it is kind of amusing to watch governments flail like this.
(Pic via Flickr)