5 minutes reading time (945 words)

Order or oppression?


As close to 100 Anti-Government Protesters take shelter within the grounds of Hong Kong Polytechnic University in a cat and mouse style tactic, police play a sick "Waiting Game" In an attempt to almost starve out student protesters from campus grounds as the stand-off reaches almost a week in length and shows no signs of abating.

The Polytechnic University where students have barricaded themselves in is the last of the universities in the country left resisting as student protesters from other resisting campuses fled during the ever increasing violence between them and the authorities.

Although their numbers have dwindled significantly from over 600 or more the last of the resistance seem to be determined to stay despite lack of supplies such as food, water and first aid kits for those who have been injured in the clashes.

​The protests that started in June, and have slowly snowballed into something resembling a civil war, were triggered over a proposed Extradition bill and the fallout has been nothing short of stunning! But could there be more then meets the eye just under the surface of all this?

The High Court in Hong Kong

It was only on Oct. 31 of this year that Hong Kong's High Court issued an interim injunction banning people from "disseminating, circulating, publishing, or re-publishing on any internet-based platform or medium" any information that "promotes, encourages, or incites the use or threat of violence," according to a government press release.

At one point in time Hong Kong was considered very "forward thinking" when it came to internet censorship compared to countries like China where even the mere topic of net neutrality is taboo.

But nowadays like many (most) countries the idea of a truly "Free internet" is becoming nothing more then a distant memory as governments use any excuse at their disposal to take away almost the one God given right we have left "The right to receive and exchange Information! without interference" what's next oxygen taxes and thought crimes?

Egyptian revolution of 2011 aka the Arab Spring

The power of a free and open internet was never more apparent then during the period of what has now been termed the "Arab Spring" that swept across parts of the Middle East and North Africa in the early stages of 2010 and flowed thru to the latter stages of 2011, all organized and ignited thru the use of social media aka the internet!

At their peak over a million people occupied the streets of Cairo with the majority of the masses occupying Tahrir square also known as "Martyr Square" In the center of the capital, bringing the entire country to a standstill........that is the power of a free and open Internet.

But the obvious power the internet holds to connect us, inform us and unite us does not go unnoticed.

Egyptian security services have been enforcing partial or total censorship since the revolution of Jan. 25, 2011, in the face of mass protests that began then and toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

And with quotes like

"Currently, the government is considering all possible legal options to halt the violence, which couldn't rule out an 'internet ban' in the future"

From Ip Kwok-him, a unofficial member of the Executive Council of Hong Kong, former member of the Urban Council of Hong Kong and the Yau Tsim Mong District Council, it could be safe to say that "Net Neutrality" and an open and free internet in Hong Kong could soon, much like Egypt, become a relic of a time when the free flow of Information and right to free thought and opinion were still "a thing".

But what does this mean for the rest of us?

All over the world governments are noticing and reacting to the obvious power a free and open internet can wield and are slowly but surely moving towards quashing it.

But thankfully there is also some resistance. A new study was published last week in the Journal of Applied Philosophy by a lecturer in global ethics at the University of Birmingham, Dr. Merten Reglitz.

In it, Reglitz makes the case that internet access is an essential part of keeping those in power accountable.

"Internet access is not merely a luxury for those who can afford it," Reglitz says "It is instead highly conducive to a multitude of crucial human interests and rights. Internet access is a uniquely effective way for lobbying and holding accountable global players like governance institutions and multinational corporations."

In 2016, a report from the Human Rights Council of the United Nations General Assembly declared access to the internet to be a basic human right, integral to allowing individuals to "exercise their right to freedom of opinion and expression."

"The Internet is one of the most powerful instruments of the 21st century for increasing transparency in the conduct of the powerful, access to information, and for facilitating active citizen participation in building democratic societies," the UN said.

So now we find ourselves asking 'is the control and suppression of a free internet more then just a crime against the populace but a crime against humanity? As well as an attack on the rights others, before us, died to protect.?

it is clear, we must do everything in our power to resist the attempt to control the free flow of information and free thought that makes the internet the powerful connectivity tool it is.

We must support privacy and decentralization, we must use and deploy a more distributed system, write more code, make more comments and do whatever it takes.

Before it is all lost, and a free internet is just a relic of a time when humans were a little freer, and a lot smarter.


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