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Intellectual Property Law: IP Democracy
China and Egypt, But Not Cuba, Stung by Web Foes
By Cynthia Brumfield
Governments everywhere face unstoppable criticism from bloggers and other web-based dissidents and no matter how scary the ruling regime, the Internet achieves its ultimate purpose: it can't be controlled. The Great Firewall of China, maintained by savvy government censors, is continually breached, as this great piece by Howard French in the New York Times attests.
Egypt seems to be actively ignoring bloggers that operate in a grey zone outside the traditional independent and state-controlled media. One high-profile blogger, Wael Abbas, has successfully publicized state violations of human rights, forcing the government to more swiftly investigate allegations of abuse and torture.
Cuba, however, seems stuck in the digital stone age. Cuban university students are openly criticizing the government on a number of issues, including blocked access to the island nation's resort hotels and the inability to travel abroad. They're circulating a 52-minute video that demands the government respond to a number of complaints...but they're not circulating it on the Internet.
This video gets passed around on computer memory cards because yet another complaint the students want redressed is that most Cubans are not allowed access to the Internet. Email is permitted, as is access to an intranet of officially santioned Cuban sites, but other than that, Cubans are stuck in the 1980s, or an even earlier era.
It's not funny at all, but when I read this I got a comical image in my head of secret hand-offs of little packages, like something out of a World War II movie where French resistance members clandestinely pass along messages of German troop movements by producing little envelopes from underneath their trench coats. It's easy to understand, then, why Cubans are protesting their inability to access the Internet.
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