Shutting down the internet

Authoritarian governments all over the world have latched onto a great way of stopping unwelcome criticism and subversive thought – suspending data services, phone calls, texting and participation in social media.  As internet penetration has surged during the past decade, especially in the developing world, so have attempts to switch off the flow of information.  The internet freedom group, Access Now, recorded 75 internet outages  in 2016; in 2018 the figure was 196. During the last year the leader in this tactic was India, with 134 switch-offs, 68% of the world total. One of those lasted 137 days in Kashmir, which is majority Moslem and handed to India at partition only because Nehru was born there.

Countries like China, Russia and Iran are shutting off their internet systems from the rest of the world, offering only home-grown versions.  The People’s daily in China opined that shutting down the internet in an “emergency” should be “standard practice for sovereign countries.”

Some of this, however, is not only down to political plots and motivations (bad as they are).  In 2018  India struggled to contain malicious rumors of child kidnappers on the loose.  This raced whipped up mobs who lynched at least 30 people across the country.  Deadly riots against Moslems in Sri Lanka were sparked by hate speech on the internet

This is reminiscent of the 1930s, and I am not just talking about the developing world.  Why is it that human beings take a service designed to draw people together and then use it for selfish, cruel, even bestial purposes?

Why is it that some people want to control everyone, bully them and tell outrageous lies to bolster their power and control.  This is so foreign to those who follow Epicurus. We have to support open and honest government under the rule of law.

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