Sunday, 1 August 2010

Blackberry Ban Echoes Gutenberg Reaction

The Blackberry Ban of the UAE and Saudi Arabia echoes the reaction of authority in Middle Ages to the Gutenberg printing press. The fear of authority to people sharing their own ideas, to having alternative interpretations to the 'official' line and making new meanings is a familiar response to 'new technology. The printing press preciptated the development of scientific thinking which lead to the Enlightenment and the split between Theocratic explanations of the world and rational scientific explanations. It led to the democratisation of knowledge.

The need for the State to protect its secrets and defend its borders is a natural right. When censorship intrudes on everyday conversations and exchange of information there is the distinct whiff of Medieval media control in the air. The UAE TRA director general Mohammed al-Ghanem claims that the Blackberry restrictions are due to something quite different to control of communications. He said "Censorship has got nothing to do with this. What we are talking about is suspension due to the lack of compliance with UAE telecommunications regulations." Cue Mandy Rice Davies - "He would wouldn't he"

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