RSS readers take raw feeds of data—headline, text, timestamp, etc.—and display that information in a stripped-down interface along with many other feeds, which is what makes them so efficient. (Here is the RSS feed for Quartz.) Less obvious is how many RSS readers, including Google’s, serve as anti-censorship tools for people living under oppressive regimes. That’s because it’s actually Google’s servers, located in the U.S. or another country with uncensored internet, that accesses each feed. So a web user in Iran just needs access to google.com/reader in order to read websites that would otherwise be blocked.
Read more. [Image: AP]
The worst part is that much of the censorware in China, Iran and other repressive regimes was either supplied by or based on US software designed to “eliminate worker distractions.” To soothe the fears of Western employers, we have blocked information to many people yearning to be free. Not an acceptable to trade off to me.
It’s true that non-US programmers could have come up with similar software and hardware on their own, but it would have taken longer and we wouldn’t bear the responsibility for the use of our products.