- Access to the Internet: A comparison of the policies of t...
Access to the Internet: A comparison of the policies of the USA and China toward Internet access
This report examines the differing policies toward access to the
internet in the USA and China. In an age where greater and greater
levels of communication are becoming the norm, there are still
certain regimes who regard the internet as a potentially
threatening resource for those who would seek to challenge current
institutions or who would wish to organise against the government.
This report examines the two different nations and how their
internet access is governed. To a large extent it is concluded that
the manner in which internet access is controlled in the respective
nations is relative to the two very different political systems
that operate within them. As a result the Chinese system is heavily
regulated and centrally controlled, whereas the USA system is much
less regulated and responds more to the judiciary and to legal
grounds for censorship rather than the preservation of the
The internet has changed the way people live in quite dramatic
ways. It has opened up new channels for political dissent and has
offered the opportunity for communication on a scale that was
previously never thought possible. There are many cases worldwide
where the internet has been used to unite people and to aid their
struggles. The concept of new social movements and the ability of
movements such as the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico to survive and
prosper are due in large part to their ability to reach a wide
audience as a result of the internet. Without this access to the
internet it would most likely have been the case that the Zapatista
movement would have wiped out by the Mexican army. However, as a
result of their ability to garner support from across the globe
they were able to shine a light on events in Chiapas and gain
international support for what they were doing. As a result of this
they undermined the Mexican state and won their battle (at least
for now). Control over this medium is therefore a key issue which
can have very significant outcomes on politics.
The differences between the internet regulation in the two
countries can largely be said to be a reflection of the differing
political systems that are present in the two countries. In the USA
the control over the internet is relatively liberal as a result of
the philosophies which form the backbone of the 'free' nation.
Whereas in China there is a strong authoritarian government which
rules in a very autocratic fashion and therefore takes as much
control over the internet as it possibly can.
In conclusion, internet access in China is heavily controlled,
subject to no clear laws and is regulated in a particularly
arbitrary fashion. Internet access in the USA on the other hand is
freely available, being censored only in the case of a particular
legal case, protection of children, or where a particular
institution or organisation deems it necessary.