Authorities in Iran have reportedly decided to ban the internal use of Gmail, seemingly inspired by the 31st anniversary of the Iranian Revolution and supposedly in favor of an e-mail service rooted within Iran, not Mountain View, California -- though presumably that home-grown IranMail is going to come complete with a "Surveille This" widget.
This isn't something you want to be right about, but I've been squawking recently about the rising time of anti-Internet rhetoric that is at its core anti-American Internet rhetoric, and how that's something that those of us who love the Internet should perpare ourselves to deal with. We saw it with China, when they responded to a possible Google pullout by complaining that the World Wide Web is hopelessly flooded with American content, and we see it again and again in Cuba, where the Castro regime argues that the content on the Web is so skewed toward American interests that they just don't want it for their people. From the perspective of Beijing or Havana, it's as if you turned on a TV in New York City and 470 of 500 channels were running Latin American telenovelas. More local, non-English content would be good for everyone involved.
But in the meantime, good on the U.S. for pointing out that Iran's limiting of the Internet that its people can see is repressive (even if P.J. Crowley's statement that "virtual walls won't work in the 21st century any better than physical walls worked in the 20th century," is a little shaky. Umm, the Berlin Wall actually served East Berlin's purposes for quite a while.) This can't be just about Google, and the hope is that a defense of the global web will emerge as a core value held by freedom-loving people everywhere, that OneWebDay, will emerge as the same sort of global celebration as EarthDay has become. The battle lines are pretty quickly being drawn.
-- Nancy Scola
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