Pakistan action the latest global Web crackdown

Pakistan officials cut off access to Facebook Thursday, adding to the list of similar acts of Web censorship around the world

As Pakistan extends its crackdown on Internet material it deems offensive, leading Facebook to consider blocking potentially objectionable content inside the nation, it's interesting to see how this latest battle over Web censorship relates to similar global events in recent years. Here are some notable instances of governments around the world curtailing or cutting off Internet access in their countries.

China vs. Google: This ugly battle has raged for close to a decade, pretty much ever since the world's biggest Web-search firm opened shop in China. In 2002, reports surfaced that China was blocking access to Google's site. In 2008, China again blocked access to Google and YouTube during riots in Tibet. Last year, China temporarily cut off Google after finding pornographic content in the site's search results. The battle continued into 2010, with Google announcing it would no longer censor search results in China, and the Chinese government warning Google to abide by its laws or leave the country.

Iran vs. Twitter: After Iran's presidential vote in the summer of 2009, protestors took to Twitter to report on bloody street riots that flared up after the election outcome, which many critics deemed fraudulent. In an attempt to curtail both international media coverage and the protestors' ability to communicate with one another, Iran's main telecom provider cut off access to text messaging and most social networking sites, including Twitter. However, some protestors continued to access the micro-blogging site via a series of proxy servers.

Thailand's embarrassed king: In 2007, Thailand blocked access to YouTube after a video posted on the site mocked the nation's king. Later that year, YouTube reportedly agreed to block videos that the Thai government considered offensive. Currently, YouTube is blocked in several countries, including China, Libya, Turkey, and Tunisia.

Myanmar protests: The repressive regime controlling this Southeast Asian nation enforced an Internet blackout in 2007, after protestors posted online photos and videos depicting a military crackdown by the government.

North Korea's cell phone surveillance: Yes, North Korea has 3G mobile service. The bad news is that calls may be monitored by state security officials. In addition, government restrictions place limits on who subscribers can call.

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Jeff Bertolucci

PC World (US online)
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