There's an interesting LA Times article looking at the reaction in China to the recent SOPA/PIPA blackouts
. While they (quite reasonably) point out that the level of censorship in China is much more extreme, one key point did catch my attention. Apparently, when the Great Firewall of China was first set up... Chinese officials defended it as a way to cut down on infringement:
Wen supports U.S. activists challenging the bills, saying it’s a slippery slope to lesser web access. He said China’s so-called Great Firewall, which blocks access to many foreign sites like Facebook and Twitter, was first billed as a strategy to stop piracy and pornography.
“Now it’s being abused and extended to thousands of websites,” he said.
The slippery slope to censorship starts with the insistence that the mechanism for censorship only has "the best intentions." But the reality is that once you have the infrastructure for censorship, it's only a matter of time until that censorship expands. It's just too powerful for those in control.