When I was setting up my first website justluck.cn with 512j.com back in 2005, I had to get a license from the Ministry of Information Industry (now the Ministry of Industry and Information), even though it is just for personal use. According the agreement, the license has to be placed in a place easy to be seen. I don’t feel much trouble at that time then, except that the Ministry’s website is poorly designed that it is not very easy to navigate around.
For the past a few days, I have been keeping track of the demonstration in Iran. And the Iranian postdoc in my lab told me yesterday during lunch time that he couldn’t even contact his parents because all means of communication to the outside world are shut. I asked why so. He said that the government installed a software in every cell phone which was initally for tracking child pornograph, but is now used for tracking any communication among demonstrators. As soon as they locate one demonstrator’s home, they will go to his/her place, tortue him/her and then force him/her to log into the computer and find all his frineds on social networking website such as facebook and twitter (which are being used heavily for demonstrators to get organized) to locate more protesters. He was apparently emotionally charged when he told me about it.
And what he said deeply troubles me. Blocking pornography seems just a smoke screen for keeping the mass from getting the information. Such measures bears the appearance of righteousness and indeed create a delightful ignorance. But it may be dangerous if used in the wrong hands, and even if correctly used, it creates an over-protection that might eventually indulge the next generation. Also troublesome is its apparent hypocrisy: You say what you want to do is blocking pornography, but actually what you want to achieve is something else. This obvious manipulation insult the intelligence of those who have sound judgment.