The Internet Routes Around Censorship

Written by Larry Press

“India’s Daughter” was banned by the Indian government, but forget censorship. Information wants to be free.

aNewDomain — The best way to ensure that everyone will want to see something is to forbid them access. In this age of Internet accessibility, attempted censorship of images and videos is more likely to lead to an increased public desire to seek them out.

The BBC documentary, “India’s Daughter,” exposes the New Delhi bus gang rape of a medical student and its aftermath. Screening of the film was banned by the Indian government and was blocked on YouTube by the BBC for copyright reasons, but the reality is that banning the film dramatically increased its notoriety and consequently its popularity.

This is an example of the so-called “Streisand effect.” In 2003, American entertainer Barbra Streisand attempted to suppress photos of her Malibu, California home. Instead of limiting the exposure, her attempt to suppress the images inadvertently drew a huge increase in public attention to them.


Screenshot by Larry Press, courtesy of Vimeo (now taken down)

The Ban Continues

I am uncertain of the specific date “India’s Daughter” was banned from YouTube, but the film popped up on Vimeo on March 5. It was viewed 60,000 times in a 24-hour period, and on March 6 was removed from Vimeo.

The video is available as of this writing on Daily Motion, but may be taken down by the time you read this. You can probably find a source by using Google or Bing search, but there’s no real way to tell. If you are in England or using a VPN, I wonder if “India’s Daughter” is still available on the BBC site?

At nearly the same time, the Chinese government blocked access to “Under the Dome,” a scathing documentary on pollution, which had hundreds of millions of views on Chinese Web sites within days of its release.

It may have been banned in China, but it is readily accessible in other nations (with English subtitles) and to any Chinese person willing to use a VPN to view it on YouTube.

Video: Chai Jing’s review: Under the Dome — Investigating China’s Smog

It seems clear that information wants to be free, despite what a governing body has to say.

For aNewDomain, I’m .

Featured Image: Shanghai Sunset via Flickr Creative Commons