Beijing to Surfers: BOOOO!

Beijing is planning on using animations to scare web users into compliance with Communist party rules (Yahoo via Slashdot):

The animated police appeared designed to startle Web surfers and remind them that authorities closely monitor Web activity. However, the statement did not say whether there were plans to boost monitoring further.

Big Brother is watching. And Uncle Sam is looking the other way. Unless we’re talking about trade issues. Then you’ve got our attention.

A bit more on the imagery being used.  Did you ever have a teacher who eschewed the red pen in favor of the pencil?  Your paper still was covered in notes and markings.  But didn’t that D look better in a dull gray, rather than in an imperious red?

The Chinese government is exercising an authority that is neither legitimate nor comforting.  In fact it is downright frightening.  You could go to jail and be tortured.  Be blacklisted and tracked.  All for reading and expressing your opinion.  A stern police officer, representative of the thugs who would be sent to bash your skull and drag you in for questioning, would be a constant reminder of the nature of the beast.  Softening the blow, however little, invites victims (in this case Chinese citizens) to play along with the myth that such poisonous domestic monitoring is natural.  Good, even.

By making the cartoon officers so stereotypically “good”, you are sending the message that “Hey, I know you’re following our really nice laws, but please be careful not to make a mistake, ok?”.

Either way, it is a symbol of oppression, and one that will be shoved down citizen’s throats on a daily basis.

There are ways to fight back.  Check out CitizenLab.

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