What is political censorship? • Political censorship exists when a government attempts to conceal, distort, or falsify information that its citizens receive by suppressing or crowding out political news that the public might receive through news outlets.
What is political censorship? • The suppression of views that are contrary to those of the government in power. The government often has the power of the army and the secret police, to enforce the compliance of journalists with the will of the government to extol the story that the government wants people to believe, at times even with bribery, ruin of careers, imprisonment, and even assassination.
Historical and contemporary examples of political censorship • Cuba • Eastern Block and the USSR • North Korea
Historical examples of political censorship in the USSR • Independent journalism did not exist in Soviet Russia until Mikhail Gorbachev • Information dissemination was controlled directly by each country's Communist party, which controlled the state media, censorship and propaganda organs.
Historical examples of political censorship in the USSR • State and party ownership of print, television and radio media served as an important manner in which to control information and society in light of Eastern Bloc leaderships viewing even marginal groups of opposition intellectuals as a potential threat to the bases underlying Communist power therein
Historical examples of political censorship in the USSR • Beginning in 1935, Joseph Stalin effectively sealed off outside access to the Soviet Socialist Republics (and until his death), effectively permitting no foreign travel inside the Soviet Union such that outsiders did not know of the political processes that had taken place therein.
Historical examples of political censorship in the USSR • During this period, and even for 25 years after Stalin's death, the few diplomats and foreign correspondents that were permitted inside the Soviet Union were usually restricted to within a few miles of Moscow, their phones were tapped, their residences were restricted to foreigner-only locations and they were constantly followed by Soviet authorities. Dissenters who approached such foreigners were arrested.
Historical examples of political censorship in the USSR • For many years after World War II, even the best informed foreigners did not know the number of arrest or executed Soviet citizens, or how poorly the Soviet economy had performed.
Censorship of North Korea • North Korea (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) has a high degree of censorship and no freedom of the press. It is routinely at the bottom of the World Press Freedom Index Rankings published annually by Reporters Without Borders. In 2007 North Korea was listed second-to-last of 169 countries (only Eritrea ranked lower), and from 2002 through 2006 it was listed the worst in the world.
Censorship of North Korea • All media outlets are strictly owned and controlled by the North Korean government. As such, all media in North Korea gets its news from the Korean Central News Agency. The media dedicates a large portion of its resources toward political propaganda and promoting the personality cult of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-il
The extent of censorship in North Korea • In 2006, Reporters Without Borders listed North Korea among the top 13 Internet enemies. • Internet access is illegal in North Korea. Very few government elite have access to the internet through a secret Chinese connection.
Censorship in Cuba • Censorship in Cuba has been reported on extensively, and resulted in European Union sanctions as well as statements of protest from groups, governments, and noted individuals. • Books, newspapers, radio channels, television channels, movies and music are censored. Clandestine printing is restricted.The Cuban authorities have called Internet "the great disease of 21st century".While special permits to use Internet are available to selected Cubans, Internet remains restricted for the vast majority of Cubans.Mobile phones are rare.Foreign journalists who can work in the country are selected by the government.
Censorship in Cuba • Cuba was the second biggest prison in the world for journalists in 2008, second only to the People's Republic of China, according to The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an international NGO.The Committee to Protect Journalists ranks Cuba as the world's fourth worst place for bloggers, stating that: “only government officials and people with links to the Communist Party have Web access" and "only pro-government bloggers can post their material on domestic sites that can be easily accessed".
The extent • It is forbidden to buy any computer equipment without express permission from the authorities. Although difficult, it is possible to assemble a computer from parts bought on the black market but the prices are prohibitive. The state owns nearly all computers on the island. As a result, Cuba has one of the world’s lowest levels of computer ownership – 3.3 per 100 inhabitants, the same rate as Togo (source: the International Telecommunication Union, 2005)
Is it justifiable? • Censorship, although harmful, does have pro and contra arguments, according to several areas of knowledge:
Conclusion • From a political perspective, censorship has rightfully always been associated to dictatorship. • It is a force against globalization, and should not have a place in a modern democratic society. • Governments should not control people, it should be the other way around.