Existence of internet censorship


My aim in this blog is to discuss the existence of internet censorship and to determine whether it is justified or not. I selected to write about this topic because of the news articles I read that provoked strong feelings to me about this matter. The article that I intrigued me to write this blog entry is about China censoring many websites and forums. As I am an active internet user and it is the mean that I use to inform myself about various subjects and to communicate, I found it very disturbing and unjust to censor the world's "information highway" as many call it.

To achieve my objective I put forward some possible reasons for this censorship and then I refuted them. I argued that it is infringement of human rights to deprive citizens of access to certain websites and to information that may be harmful to some individuals' interests. It is unfair to control the internet and the flow of information as the internet does not have an owner. Rather it is a place where people from all over the world can share their knowledge. In fact, this is the initial purpose for which it was created.

The difficulties that lie behind this matter are how people perceive internet censorship and whose interests may be at risk. Hence, it is a controversial subject amongst individuals and governments. I confirmed this during the research I did on the issue by reading the opinions of several bloggers.

A disturbing act against the Internet

Information highway and censorship

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

I have been reading online newspapers the past two years. As I am more interested in the technology sector I mostly get informed about events concerning technology. Lately, I have observed countless articles about China's internet censorship. It seems to be a very "hot" topic as infinite headings pass before my eyes. "Google counts cost of censorship and draws red line under China", "To Shut Off Tiananmen Talk, China Disrupts Sites"[1], "Internet Censorship in China"[2], "China censors Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, msn, Flickr, "China censors discussion forums, blogs". It's like I have been bombarded about China and its censorship of Internet content. Although China has a massive population and a large number of internet users and bloggers, the last year it has been censored severely.

Someone once said that the "national borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway"[3]. That's quite true as the Internet is the world's common room where everyone meets. The Internet is the mean by which people are bridging the distances and share their knowledge. "It is the world's largest library. It's just that all the books are on the floor."[4] Before the Internet, there was insufficient flow of information and people were being informed through the other media, such as newspapers, radio and television. However what and how was presented on those means was monitored, controlled and manipulated. Whereas the net is a place where laws and rules do not exist as it does not belong to any country.

Naturally, the reason for all this restricting and censoring is the protection of the citizen; the protection of children and women against sexual manipulation and the protection of human rights. In addition, censoring is used to protect citizens from malware, spam email and fraudulent schemes. Yet there are certain well-known websites that some countries have decided to ban. For instance, China has been censoring multiple websites, the list of which has not been made public; indeed Google and Wikipedia are among them.

As most of us know, Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia providing information on a range of topics. Google is the world's largest search engine. How is banning those websites protecting minors and women? What about the human rights and the prerogative to enter whichever website on the Internet? This is certainly impingement of citizen rights; and for what cause? to protect the governments' and well-off individuals' interests? It should be clear that we live in a time that freedom of speech is prevalent in most countries, thus it must be supported.

I also learned that the Chinese government employs a group of people called the "50 cent party"[5], who are paid to write in blogs and forums things supporting the government's views. This is something that outraged me by thinking that there are actually people who support this or are simply indifferent about this matter just because they get paid.

In my opinion, the government should protect its citizens but in a different way. Stripping the privileges of Internet is not protecting, it is impingement of human rights. People need and can know what is right and wrong for them. Therefore, it should be up to them to decide what they want to read or see on the Internet. As far as the protection of minors is concerned, there are many software that parents can purchase to protect them from seeing unwanted and inappropriate material. Not to mention, that this is one of their many responsibilities. This indicates that internet censorship is unjustified in a certain extent and should be eliminated.

  1. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/03/world/asia/03china.html?_r=3
  2. http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/news/international/countriesandterritories/china/internet_censorship/index.html?scp=1-spot&sq=china%20censorship&st=cse
  3. http://www.quotegarden.com/internet.html
  4. http://www.quotegarden.com/internet.html
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/50_Cent_Party

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