What You Need to Hear

Closing the Internet by Section

Filed under: Business, Lifestyle, Technology, Travel

Apparently although the vast majority of people don’t have a computer in North Korea, there is a functioning intranet operating in the country.   No-one is that sure what it contains, but it’s very likely that it’s mostly full of praise and propaganda for their leaders.   Most people in North Korea have no access to the internet as we know it and this limited network is the only computer based information system that they’re likely to see.

North Korean Film Festival

It’s an extreme example but there is a real worry that the world wide web as we know it is starting on this censorship route.  In it’s earliest years, the whole network was completely accessible to anyone, yet that changes every year.  The media industry for example has yet to identify a method for dealing with copyright on a global scale.   This means that many web sites, videos and movies are only available to certain countries.  You may have come across this yourself, perhaps clicking on a YouTube video and being greeted by a message saying ‘not available in your country’.

It’s even more confusing when you’re close to home and suffer these sort of restrictions.  For example travel a few miles across the border into Southern Ireland and you’ll suddenly find that you’re unable to watch the BBC iPlayer online.  This blog post shows you a way to access it – Does BBC iPlayer work in Ireland, however it does seem crazy that it’s not available simply because you’ve travelled across a physical border.

Presumably the same happens when you cross the US Canadian border, where you’ll lose access to much of the online media you used in your home country.  Most of the US and Canadian media companies extensively use region locking so expect to be blocked until you return.

Of course, the reasons behind these restrictions are usually to do with copyright.   What you’ll find is that a company will own the rights to broadcast something in the USA but not the rights to broadcast the same thing in Europe.   This ridiculous situation means that they have to work out a way of blocking access to a global medium in order to comply with these rights.  This archaic practice shows little sign of being phased out, in fact the practice seems to grow ever year.  There are literally thousands of the world’s biggest media sites which are only accessible to a small proportion of the world.

It’s not quite at the North Korea intranet stage yet, but there’s a real worry that the internet is being controlled and filtered more each year.  If you combine this with the internet filtering which happens on a State/Government level the trend is growing at an exponential rate.  There is already effectively a tier level system for accessing the internet which will only get worse.

Further Reading:

Can I Get BBC iPLayer in Spain, Jeremy Jones, 2017

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