This Week In Review  

Articles of Review:

International Herald Tribune, Blogging from Havana, secretly  


Myanmar’s “Saffron Revolution”: The Geopolitics behind the Protest Movement, Centre for Research on Globalization  

The effects of the Internet and blogs as a communication tool has been a central topic in the analysis of information dissemination in the pro-democracy protests in Burma; the same topic has recently been raised in regards to disseminating information of life in Cuba. The Internet has become an effective means of relaying information to a global audience with significant impacts. 

This week the article on bloggers begin to tell the realities of life in Communist Cuba, from the International Herald Tribune, discusses how bloggers use their blogs to relay information about the conditions of life in the state, where the government has tight control of information. The government not only controls information but also access to the Internet.  For example, blogger Yoani Sanchez, being a local, is prohibited from using the Internet in hotels, where Internet access is reserved for tourists and visiting foreigners.  

The control of media and access to information can be compared to the situation in Burma, on the grounds of government attempts to create a closed information society. As has been written in commentaries spanning the past two weeks, the Burmese government attempted to control information dissemination about the pro-democracy movement.

The two cases are similar in that the government feels that the Internet is a threat to their position of authority since the information that is being disseminated may undermine their capacity to exercise power. Thus, each government exercises their authority with their actions to contain the tools that disseminate information, in this case, the Internet.   

This type of response is worrisome for two reasons. The model of this type of government response serves as a model for other states. As the Burmese and Cuban governments display these kinds of actions, they become more available to others. However, although in each case there is an attempt to control Internet access, this tactic is somewhat ineffective given the growth of information communication technologies worldwide.   

The second cause for concern is that in an information based society, controlling information or access to it is an infringement on human rights.  The right to access information is a human right as declared by Article 19 and should be protected. Therefore, the precedent setting effects of such actions by states and the infringement on human rights are two aspects of the Cuban and Burmese cases that are similar between the two situations.  

The potential political impacts of the technology of the Internet cannot be underestimated, especially towards the support of democracy and political change.


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