Wednesday, 25 April 2018

The pettiness of internet censorship

There's a story by the Russian author Fyodor Sologub called The Petty Demon about a vindictive, paranoid man and a vindictive, paranoid town. The main character, Peredonov, is obsessed with achieving material success, no matter whose life he has to destroy to get there. About Peredonov, Sologub writes, "He didn’t like people, he never thought about them other than in connection with what benefits or pleasures he might derive from them." His hostile treatment of others is a reflection of his egoism, a trait that has emerged in our modern world's obsession with materialism.


Peredonov's obsessions lead to paranoia, and he begins to see a little demon everywhere. In one scene, he cuts out the eyes of the royals in a deck of cards because he thinks they are looking at him. Everyone is out to get him and prevent him from obtaining the object of his desire - a position as school inspector, which would come with wealth and power. (SPOILER ALERT: It doesn't end well for him.)

Is this not an accurate description of Vladimir Putin?

Putin's recent ban on the messenger app Telegram is just the latest in a long list of assaults on online freedom and freedom of expression. As recently as 2014, Russia was ranked "partly free" on Freedom House's annual Freedom on the Net report. Since 2015, it has been ranked "not free."

This devolution has come as more Russians gain access to the internet. In 2004, only 8% of Russians had access. As of December 2015, 70% had access. Powermongering, paranoid Putin won't let Russians have access to the real internet because people might be able to spread information about protests and ways to elect opposition leaders like Alexei Navalny. Democracy and freedom are Putin's petty demons.

But - Russians can bypass Putin's censorship with SumRando encryption tools. Replace your Telegram account with SumRando Messenger. Download SumRando VPN for Windows and Android to access blocked websites. Visit www.sumrando.com for more information.

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