Censorship's Evolution Through History

Annotations

Reign of Savonarola, Florence

1497

A religious centric ruler that was fond of censoring any books or paintings by some of Florence’s most acclaimed authors and artists, and replacing them with his own favorites to keep spreading his beliefs, rather than allowing Italian citizens to have their own. His preferred method of censoring this information was taken through burning them.

German Translation of Bible Banned by Pope

1624

Martin Luther translated the Catholic Bible into German so that the people of Germany would be able to read it for themselves. In retaliation, the Catholic Church, headed by the Pope, ordered that the translation be disregarded, and the citizens were no longer allowed to reference it. The Church’s act of censorship by stopping the same flow of information into Germany was what fueled the formation of the Lutheran Church, so others with differing ideas could freely practice their own religion, a concept not greatly popular in Europe during this time period.

British Pass the Licensing Act

1662

The act passed by Parliament was put into effect to quell the continuing number of books and articles that differed from the royal government’s opinions. Treasonable publishments had been circulating their way around the country via newspaper articles, and there were beginning to become many sources from outside Britain that were relied upon. In fear that it would destroy the morals of the public, Parliament worked to censor this information by claiming that all outlets of publication must have a license to do print.

Bolshevik Censorship of the Soviet Union

1917

The use of censorship in Bolshevik-ruled Russia was shown through the new forms of journalism that had arisen in this time. The newer journalists, appointed by the government, never criticized the leading party, they only praised them and spread information about how they were “saving the people”. Any who tried to publish their own thoughts that may have contrasted to those of the Bolsheviks, were thrown in jail or sent to gulags. By stopping the expansion of legitimate information through the Soviet Union, the Russians’ lives were negatively impacted, as they were never told the entirety of any situation.

Beginning of Nazi Censorship

1933

The Nazi Propaganda Ministry in Germany took full control of all sources of communications, and all information was censored entirely if there were any harmful words said against the Nazis. They raided libraries and bookstores, burning anything with and ideas considered “radical” that were felt as a threat to the party.

Press Proclamation Law of 1996 in Eritrea

1996

The law passed by the Eritrean government stated that all newspaper companies and publishers had to have proper licensing in order legally be able to share their information. If licenses were acquired, any publication would first go to the government for their approval, as to censor and make sure no opposing opinions could spread through Eritrea. It is monitored by the Eritrean Ministry of Information.

Creation of the Great Chinese Firewall

1997

This program created by the Communist Party of China is used to regulate internet actions by Chinese citizens, and to make sure that no information contrasting to the opinions of the government are able to be shared. If any differing thoughts are shared over the internet, the government will find out, and the retribution can be very severe to those who dare to break this law.

Golden Shield Project

2003

The actual way in which China is able to regulate the internet, as a subcategory of the Great Firewall of China. It is a series of monitoring systems that are installed into every mobile device or computer tablet sold in China. The government doesn’t hesitate to let it be known to citizens that they are being watched whenever they’re online.

MySpace in China

2007

The social media site was released in April, however it lacked the typical forums in the discussion threads section of the site that involved any topic relating to politics or religion. Any of those subjects that did occur were immediately deleted by the Internet Police, and users were reported and their accounts deleted.

Attack on the Eritrean Ministry of Information

2013

A group of around 100 or so junior officers in the Eritrean militia attempted a mutiny against the Ministry, or locally known as the “Forto” to try to take over the building. They forced the director of the television channel to read a statement that claimed that the government had been collaboratively working to censor the information accessible to the country. The coup was eventually put to rest and the officers actively involved in the attack haven’t been seen since.

Release of the Android in North Korea

2014

The sole purpose of the tablet (in the eyes of the government) is to act as a tracking device to all the information that runs through the internet in North Korea. It is unbeknownst to the citizens that they are being monitored, and if users are tracked to be smuggling contraband or spreading anti-governmental thoughts, they will be thrown in prisons, many times never seeing their families again.