Internet censorship limits or restricts your online activity preventing you from accessing certain content on the internet. Read on to analyze whether Internet censorship is a good or bad phenomenon.
Despite operating on the same network infrastructure of a World Wide Web, the dynamics of internet access and use differ greatly. The variety or extent of information you can access on the internet depends on your regional location.
Simply put, the websites or applications you regard as your daily-driven may be restricted for use, in your neighboring state in the name of internet censorship. But how? Let’s discuss in detail how internet censorship affects you and whether it is beneficial or detrimental to your mobility in cyberspace.
What is Internet Censorship?
Internet censorship is viewed as the state/institution-supervised control over websites and information for the public to access over the world wide web. In such a censorship scenario, users are banned or restricted to online information that organizations deem private or sensitive. The state-subjected censorship comes in the form of a regulation or law published by the government.
What Type of Content is Censored?
Content over the internet is restricted on a regional basis meaning, users from a certain geographical location will be unable to access certain content online. In most cases, websites that are banned in one place or region can be accessed easily from other locations. For instance, many social media websites are restricted in China.
Normally, here are some forms of content that are often prohibited:
- Foreign or international news agencies and NGOs.
- Person-to-person file sharing websites.
- Social media and multi-platform messaging applications.
- Adult/porn websites.
The Aims of Internet Censorship
Censoring online data for public access is primarily done for the following reasons:
- Prevent the public from viewing sensitive and unlawful content.
- Monitor the online activity of users in a designated territory.
- Control and prevent crimes committed over the internet.
- Making copyrighted information inaccessible to the public.
- Stop people from accessing obscene and derogatory content.
Private entities and organizations also have the right to self-censorship. It involves restricting information verily for the sake of moral and business reasons, social norms, and following state-regulated laws. Any type of harmful or sensitive content or copyrighted information is censored from the public’s use inside their domain.
Often in the case of government-regulated internet censorship, there can be additional motivations such as political manipulation, instating propaganda, and changing narratives. Moreover, such restrictions may also come in response to elections, protests, and rioting events. Nevertheless, there are ways you can unblock internet censorship to have a broader look at an event.
Global Situation of Internet Censorship
Internet censorship finds diversity on a global level. The extent of internet censorship varies from being insignificant to vigilantly restrictive in terms of internet usage and online content consumption by the people. Let’s understand how countries on each side of the spectrum impose internet censorship on their populace.
Internet Censorship in Capitalist America
America is the largest capitalist state in the world and exercises little to no control over internet censorship within its borders. In the United States, citizens’ online activity is safeguarded under the banner of first amendment rights.
Although US citizens aren’t restricted to oblige by a set course over the internet, government agencies and law enforcement institutions do monitor online activity to ensure no cases of child pornography, libel, and intellectual property are published or surface on the internet.
Internet Censorship in Socialist China
The situation of internet censorship in China is no secret. The one-party governed state enforces strict internet censorship for more than 500 million citizens of the country. In addition to restricting protests, minority rights, and pornography, the country has restricted various news sites and social media apps.
The idea is that government-induced censorship is primarily imposed in oppressive and feudal governments. Countries like China, keep their citizen’s online activity in check making sure they don’t hover beyond the set guidelines of internet usage.
Pros and Cons of Internet Censorship
Labeling internet censorship as good or bad would be an injustice, given the fact that cyber restrictions have their fair share of pros and cons.
- Prevent access to immoral and harmful activities. From selling harmful drugs to having access to child pornography, one can easily access all sorts of illicit activities on the internet.
- Limits access to obscene and disturbing content. Apart from viewing adult content, internet users in most countries can have access to heinous crime videos and unfiltered content about murders being committed in real-time.
- Provides security against identity theft – a rising scam theft in most developed nations. With no added layer of restriction on internet usage, stealing crucial personal information becomes relatively easier.
- Removes or reduces any false data revolving around the internet. Fake news is a common phenomenon in times of political unrest in countries. False news, if not censored, could give rise to even severe crises.
- Restricts basic access to information. In the wake of protecting the spread of false news, internet censorship impedes the process of acquiring basic knowledge.
- No limit to censorship guidelines. With every state having its own set of religious, social, and moral ideologies, the process of setting guidelines favorable to all is almost impossible.
- Restricts freedom of speech. With your online activity being monitored and even restricted without any set guidelines, citizens lose their freedom to exercise free speech.
- Considering the large-scale mind power and advanced technologies being used to monitor the internet usage of the populace, the budgets are exorbitantly high.
While the concept of internet censorship is still alien to many people around the world, the idea of it is very real. It is nearly impossible to paint the concept of internet censorship in black and white. Although there is a fair share of disadvantages linked with constant online surveillance, one cannot undermine its positive aspects of it as well.
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