To keep a lid on revolt, it is essential for a totalitarian regime to retain complete control of all the means of dissemination of information, which is why until very recently, there have been few personal computers and almost no data communications networks or photocopiers in the Soviet Union – but the administration in the People’s Republic of China, in its rush for modernisation, shows every sign of having handed to its people the seeds of its own destruction. If uncensored information can be transmitted only by unreliable word of mouth and laboriously copied pamphlets, oppressors can isolate dissidents into pockets, but China has been racing to install a modern telephone network complete with tens of thousands of personal computers and facsimile machines. And so as fast as the Chinese broadcasting media pump out the messages the adminstration wants the public to hear, contrary messages are arriving by other routes. According to The Networking Insititute Inc in Newton, Massachusetts, a global human network of Chinese students and their sympathisers are sharing information over several parallel global computer networks, so that each cell of dissidents is at the same time self-sufficient and autonomous, and linked into a broader consciousness combining their insights into a group intelligence. Crushing one cell or node does little to impair the effectiveness of the vast human network. And, reports Microbytes, a group of editors at a magazine called China Spring in New York says it will continue to send information into Peking via an underground network of facsimile machines. China Spring, which is officially banned in China, taps family members, friends and associates who live in the cities across China for information about events in China. Information from sources in China is passed to Chinese newspapers and US news agencies for verification before being broadcast back to China by fax, to be published using personal computers. How to bring down the boom? Cut off all the phone lines.
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