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Digital rights in Asia

human rights, business and local governements

The stunning growth of the Asian users of internet represents a big business oppurtunity for companies and local governement, who are happy to increase the infrastructures essential to garantee a long-standing internet connection. This phenomena is called " digital capitalism"- already largely widespread in the West- and it is capable to produce extraordinary or catastrophic effects, whose consequences are already important stuff for the repression's historicians. Especially, what is true for Asia, where more often new systems able to examine the citizens' web incoming and outcoming traffic are developed- of couse in the greater interest of the State- and where is more suitable to discuss about  “intranet” rather than "internet". In Computer Science a "intranet" network is a network completely isoleted from that which is external- so, internet- and accessible by not allowed users. This word was created in relation to software used by private company, public structure and research organization, but nowadays it is extended- in an atechnical way-  also to some systems adapted from different governements in order to exercise a direct control on online contents. In Cina, for example, dominates the "Great Firewall":  it is a governative censorship cleaner which impedes to access to more than eighteen thousand websites, among witch social media and the so called "antigovernative" contents. Citizens are forced to use " Virtual Private Network" (VPN) to overcome  barriers and connect, but it is not always easy: from Whatsapp to Facebook, the Chines authorities controll and block the web access. In Cambogia, the creation of a similiar chinese block was announced: the "Nig". This system will filter all the incoming and outcoming traffic from citizens' connections and it will be used from the beginning of the next year, just in time for the amministrative elections and for the politician vote, forecasted in the next days. In North Korea, it is possibile to surf on the web, ma only under the strict control of the Pyongyang regime. Optical fibre connections exist, but are not so widespread, and moreover, the online world is made of an intranet network called  "Kwangmyong", opened in 2000. It is the only one available for the common people, who have, in this ways, the possibility to access to just a tight number of websites, controlled by the governement. In Thailand, on the contrary, the militar dictatorship imposed to provider and phone companies to collaborate with the justice in case of supposed lese-majesty, the law that safeguard the thai monarch from his subjects' insults and criticism and repress disapproval. The method used is the analysis of all the public and private activities conducted by users on social media, particurarly on Facebook, where it is mandatory to sing up with name and surname. In the last three years, according to Open Democracy, in Thailand 285 people have been taken to trail for lese-majesty crime, witch establish penalties from 3 to 15 years- accruable- of reclusion for indictment. In different trials, as evidences of the accused, extracts from chat, private messages and posts of Facebook have been used.  In Vietnam tells the New York Times that a few weeks after the agreement between the governement and Facebook for the removal of contents that violate the national laws, the autor of a poem "agaist the governement" was arrested the day after he had posted it on his own profile. In Saudi Arabia, the Internet traffic applies a filter to contents, by blocking them on the base of two criteria and by separating them in two lists: one related to contents defined "immoral" - such as LGBTQ+ and pornographic sites and the other related to sites that promote different ideologies, which are considered as "threats for the national security". In Siria, due to the civile war, The Ministry of Communication blocked the access to internet, closying completely internet for different times of the year. Inside the Country it is not allowed to access to controversial political or social contents  without undergoing harassment or arrests from the governement. In Iran, there is internet connection but it is very restrictive. The speed limitation is habitual, so as that of the band width. Every questionable politician content is supervised and removed and the users' researches are traced and controlled. In India, according to the Ministry of Communication new rules, the governement can suspend Internet in a determined area during emergencies or for public security reasons. Only in 2017, indicates Hindustan Times, it happened 40 times. All this happens again in 2021, when in 2016 The United Nations Human Rights Council declared that the internet access restrictions are a violation of the human rights.

Translated by Veronica Luzzi


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  • L'Autore

    Rebecca Scaglia

    Studentessa di Giurisprudenza al terzo anno, aspirante avvocato. Interessata alla tutela e difesa dei diritti della persona umana. Pienamente convinta che ognuno di noi abbia un grande potere, ossia di saper fare la differenza.

    Third year law student, aspiring lawyer. Interesed in protection of human rights. Fully convinced that everyone has a strong power, which is to know how to make the difference.

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