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Censorpore as a Terror State

At 6:29 AM 9/2/96, Bill Stewart wrote:

>While Tim's article title was clearly intended to be provocative,

Indeed, I write many things to be _provocative_. Not to be insulting, but
to challenge orthodoxies. And when I hear mealy-mouthed platitudes along
the lines of "foreigners do not understand the special needs of our nation,
and do not understand why Benevolent Father Yew channels our thoughts in
more productive directions," I have to call a spade a spade.

(quoting James Seng)

>>In addition, you need to see the method of censorship deployed in
>>Singapore. For press media like papers and magazine, it is done in a
>>passive manner. They _do not_ read every issue of every magazine available
>>in Singapore. They only do so when there is enough complains.
>This also means you don't know what is safe to print and what isn't.
>You have to restrict yourself very strongly, because otherwise
>some politically influential person will complain to the government,
>and you go to jail.  At least if the government tells you what
>the rules are, you know it's safe to say things that don't violate them.

Yes, what James Seng calls a "passive manner" is often worse than
censorship in a direct manner. Psychologists would mention "random
reinforcement" at this point. When there is _direct_ censorship, with
clearly defined rules, publishers will skate as close to the edge of the
envelope as they can, and even test the limits. When there is _passive_ or
_vague_ censorship, with rules not carefully spelled out but with the
possibility of prosecution and jail time always looming, then publishers
and others will rein themselves in, taking the cautious route. This is, of
course, often the result desired, that people invoke "the policeman inside"
(to use the Burroughs term).

This is really the essence of a "terror state." The rules are not known,
the fear of a knock on the door is omnipresent, and the Beloved Ruler may
dispatch his enforcers on a whim.

>>ps: Sorry for the off-topic discussion.
>It's not off-topic.  Building tools to prevent censorship is
>distinctly on-topic for cypherpunks, and an occasional digression into
>whether it's a good idea is worthwhile.

Exactly. A discussion of routing-around Censorpore's policies is at least
as on-topic as the 17th discussion of some snake oil cipher.

--Tim May

We got computers, we're tapping phone lines, I know that that ain't allowed.
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
t[email protected]  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA  | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Licensed Ontologist         | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."