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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 21st year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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And the censorship increases

20 December 2016

It seems that governments around the world really enjoy a good game of whack-a-mole.

Well that's the inference that could be drawn from recent news on the wires.

Australia has just started cracking down on access to sites which provide access to torrents -- even though it's accepted that a percentage (small as it may be) of this traffic is for legitimate purposes.

Imagine if the government decided to shut down the nation's roads on the premise that *most* people speed on occasion therefore it's a haven for law-breakers!

Of course, as *we* all know, attempts to restrict access to *anything* on the Net is somewhat akin to trying to nail jelly to a tree. Ultimately it is an abject failure and a huge waste of time and money.

Trivial facts like that have never stopped governments who are hell-bent on wasting taxpayers money and making a fool of themselves however.

And now there's more evidence that online censorship is "trending".

The latest country to jump on the "only what we let you see" bandwagon is Turkey.

According to this BBC report Turkey is now working to block all access to the Tor anonymising network.

The first question would have to be "why?"

What is the Turkish government so afraid of?

Perhaps we should remember those sage words so often spouted by those in power: "only those with something to hide have anything to fear".

Apparently the Turkish government has demanded that ISPs block access to TOR and VPNs, using packet inspection software to identify and stop any traffic with the distinctive signatures associated with the Tor network.

The "only what we allow" club of Net-connected countries seems to grow. Singapore, the UK, Australia, China... the list grows longer with each passing day.

Of course one can't help but laugh at the naivety and conceit of the politicians who really think they're achieving something. Have they honestly convinced themselves that they're effectively blocking stuff? Do they really believe that the technology used by the people (especially the people they're trying to control) isn't one (or ten) steps ahead of that which they're using to implement these blocks?

Ah well, it's not *our* job to educate them as to the nature of their follies and so long as they think they're doing something, the vast majority of folk who should be affected will likely just carry on sidestepping the roadblocks and conducting business as usual.

How long before we see the thin end of the censorship wedge creeping into NZ?

We know that surveillance is already an integral part of the Net world-wide, which means it's a major part of the NZ Net. However, we still have a relatively censorship-free connection although I'd be willing to wager good money that this won't continue for too much longer.

The governments of the day will eventually conjure up some justification for effectively creating filters to weed out stuff that is unsavoury or just politically non-aligned with the thinking of the incumbent regime.

It is the nature of man(kind) I'm afraid.

Enjoy your freedom whilst you can -- all good things must come to an end (eventually).

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