1/4/2006

Internet poses political challenge to Asian governments

Filed under: — By Aviran Mordo @ 7:24 pm

Asian governments attempting to control the free flow of information face a struggle as their citizens increasingly turn to the Internet for alternative views.

As Internet penetration rates surge across Asia, governments, including those in China and Vietnam, are finding it harder to deal with political challenges arising from the availability of information through the Web, the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) said.

“Governments that attempt to control the free flow of information are fighting an uphill battle,” the Hong Kong-based PERC said in its latest Asian Intelligence report on Wednesday.

“They might be able to control what is written in their country’s printed media and broadcast over radio and television systems, but the Internet linked with telephone advances poses new challenges.

“It is putting the tools to send and receive information quickly and cheaply into the hands of millions of people who previously had access only to official channels of news.”

It warned that the more governments censor traditional media channels “the more that people are being driven to the Web to get their news information”.

Countries where newspapers and the broadcast media are tightly controlled by the government are likely to be impacted more by the use of the Internet as a forum for dissent than nations that have a free press, it said.

PERC cited a report by industry watchdog Freedom House which named China, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam as countries where the press is “not free”.

Of the four, the most vulnerable to the political impact of the Internet are China, Vietnam and Malaysia where the governments have taken a stronger stance to censor the Web, it said.

Source: AFP

 

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