Censorship, as Mark Twain said, “…is telling a man he can’t have a steak because a baby can’t chew it.” I got my first taste of censorship when I was younger, when my parents started to argue over something they would switch from English to pigeon Gaelic. I could tell by the waving of arms and hands it must have been juicy, but – still I just could not make it out. Is it protecting us from reality? Sure, some individuals, especially the young need to be protected. Is it about engineering a message so the population believes every other bit of crud a media outlet may shovel forward, sure it is. Is it about the protection images and brands by avoiding critics, sure it is that too. But it can also be a pain in the butt when you get censored and you have absolutely nothing interesting to say.
Many countries also practice censorship, some of the worst are Etria, North Korea, Syria, Iran, Equatorial Guinea, Burma, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Belarus, China, and Sudan and there are a few others. Do I get some countries are trying to protect morals and censor out pornography? Sure. Agree or not at least there is a higher ideal. Most just wish to make sure their population does got information about the outside would that may be critical of the government.
Some of North Koreas censorship is so funny; it has North Korean security people feeding the homeless in Los Angles. Censorship with a bit of pastiche.
But for us Gray men who really must remain a-political it offers some real issues. Recently in a set of assignments through the UAE, Uzbekistan and China I had access to several of our mean internal communications within the IBA and had to resort to phoning in my emails. We make extensive use of Gmail and Facebook as well as a secure VPN liked to several web based email accounts with different servers. At one time or another any and or all of these accounts stopped working. Facebook was gone in China. Web based email worked for a short period of time, but that also died. The VPN worked – again for a short period of time and that was cut off.
Yes, I know I may work around and the work around usually increase the local apprehensiveness. So, we used cell phones and satellite phones (connect to the internet via satellite) to call in emails and work with the office while we were on the road.
It is worthwhile remembering that not all societies have such an open informational architecture. Many locations are trying to protect their jobs, their citizens, their way of life, in short protecting everybody from reality.
Just for a lark, here is a list of countries where Facebook is censored and/or monitored – other than the USA’s NSA; Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Iran, Mauritius, Morocco, Russia, Syria, Tajikistan, and the United Kingdom.
A great app is Zello which Gray men can use in lieu of radios if they have Internet. But in some countries, including France, it is not allowed. Censorship when it protects vested interest can also hinder intelligence research vitally needed for protection of our principle. Some nations ban sexual pornography but appear to have no problem with extremist violent pornography as demonstrated the many violent beheading clips
Always test your communications and ability to use more than one method. Yet again the satellite phone was a life saver – even if we had nothing interesting to say other than to talk about office work and gossip.
The worst things about censorship is you miss out on the juicy bits your not supposed to know, and that is just what they do not want you to know because than you would be in the know and able to conduct yourself appropriately. Really that’s it.
This Executive Protection article was written or edited by Baron James Shortt, the Executive Director of the IBA. http://www.ibabodyguards.com