FoxyFriday, Internet Censorship Edition

Good morning everyone. Another week gone, and another FoxyFriday is upon us.

I was going to make this one another light hearted affair. Maybe something about Rugby and funny shaped balls, or touching on interesting sports from around the world, but then I came across this article about how the government of Thailand is quietly laying the groundwork to install a gateway internet. Essentially, a gateway internet makes it much easier for the government to strictly monitor and control  internet traffic coming into Thailand from other countries.

Thailand never sprung to the front of my mind when thinking about internet censorship. China, sure. North Korea, absolutely. After all, how else are they going to believe Kim Jong Un can do things like invent a drug that cures AIDS, Ebola, and cancer? 

The drug is actually pork fat.

But Thailand never struck me as particularly oppressive. In retrospect, that’s a remarkably dumb thing to believe.  But then again I live in the USA, where most of our news cycles focus on bloviating fools with bad hair saying very loud things, and offer very little actual content about the rest of the world.

A bloviating fool featured regularly on American news
A bloviating fool featured regularly on American news

Thailand isn’t alone in heavily restricting internet access, but it is joining a relatively small group of nations with a single gateway internet: Laos, China, Myanmar, North Korea, so far as I can tell.

I will admit, I mainly use my proxy service to watch ridiculous British reality TV. It has no redeeming value, and really does nothing to contribute much to society. But proxy service can mean so much more to people living behind oppressive internet and media censorship.

The role of proxy and VPN services during the Arab Spring uprisings is well documented, and a little Googling can provide you with numerous articles and papers stating as much. Proxies and VPNs are still being widely used in Iran, Syria, and Tunisia, not only to organize and protest but to simply live life with some modicum of normalcy. Accessing email, sharing cat videos, and posting carefully curated seflies are just as much a part of the internet that people want, in addition to the actual important things.

Everyone deserves Maru videos. 

The fight for free and open internet access is an ongoing and difficult one. Bloggers are getting jailed and flogged,  journalists are being thrown in jail, and citizens are being kept in the dark behind tightly controlled digital walls. Organizations like the Mozilla Foundation, the EFF, and  The Center for Democracy and Technology are all fighting for global internet rights, and deserve a minute or two of your time.

I’ll no longer be taking for granted my ability to sit for hours in a downward spiral of weird Youtube videos. I look forward to the day when anyone, anywhere, can choose to spend hours on anything from meaningless browsing to intellectual dissent.