from the but-but-THEY-are-doing-it dept
I think even the least cynical among us can see what the real aim is here. What concerns me, however, is how the US will respond.
If history is any indication, US officials will denounce this as a restriction on free speech, while at the same time making sure to vigorously support such restrictions at home. They'll probably decry the new Chinese efforts as privacy invasive while doing their best to make ISPs retain data on customers for law enforcement use. No doubt they will have strong words to say about internet censorship around the globe while they craft bills to take down websites with little or no due process. In fact, the very notion of open WiFi itself has been under siege for quite some time. Operating an open connection can already get your internet disconnected, or have your house raided by a swat team. With all that hypocrisy in mind, the next step for the US with regard to open WiFi seems pretty clear.
Lest you think I am engaging in hyperbole, perhaps an exercise is in order. All we need to do is to adjust the stated goals of the Chinese to match current US culture and politics:
1. "Blackmail" is not a hot button issue here, so they might want to claim the needed data retention policies are to stop child porn instead. That always sells well.
2. "Traffic Goods" sounds an awful lot like trading in counterfeit goods. And of course we know that selling fake medicine is just like copyright infringement.
3. "Gambling" is easy enough. We already seize poker sites. We even set up our own fake payment sites so we can steal money from gamblers too!
4. "Propagate damaging information?" What could be more damaging than wikileaks, which we're trying desperately to charge with something (anything!).
5. "Spread computer viruses" fits nicely into the current cybercrime fear-mongering.
Can anyone honestly say that they can't see a US politician standing up tomorrow to announce that we need to start monitoring our own open WiFi connections to stop "child pornography, copyright infringement, online gambling, disclosure of national secrets, and cybercrime?" That's practically the holy grail of political grandstanding, and what politician is going to speak out against that?