Internet censorship implies any restrictions that are placed on an individual person’s or a group of people’s access to online information. The internet became a major source of information and socialization in the early 2000’s. Since then, reliance on the internet for information, business, news, and socialization has increased tremendously. While some individuals tend to exploit the freedom they have on the internet, censorship dwells a blow to already gained steps. Internet censorship, whether for individuals or collective societies, should be opposed in every way possible.
In the current world, people rely on the internet to get instant information and news from across the world. The internet has also resulted in increased social activities especially with the emergence of social media platforms, growth of businesses across the world, and easy access to knowledge. Ecommerce for instance, suffers a great deal when the internet is censored even for an hour, for an entire society.
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In some countries where democracy is yet to mature, censorship is mostly applied during elections, when people are planning to riot or strike, or when there is general security-related tension in the country. In such cases, people’s access to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is censored purportedly to prevent large numbers of people sharing information which security agents think could lead to greater tension. This was evident in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and other Arab countries during the 2011 “Arab Spring.” However, despite censoring the media, people still gathered and protested although the rate at which information spread after the censorship was relatively slow. In North Korea for instance, the government regularly censors people’s access to the internet. The same applies to China where the state has great control over the media. Such restriction of individuals and societies from accessing information amounts to violating their freedom of information and expression. It is unnecessary and holds back the society’s progress.
If the government or a particular individual with the powers to censor internet actually censors the internet, it results in great inconvenience to people and to their freedoms. Censoring the internet for fear of people forming groups and gathering to protest against the government of the day implies that the people have no confidence in the government. As the power lies in the people and not a few elected leaders, they are free to communicate and act within the law. As the current world relies, to a great extent, on the internet for trading activities, censorship costs the entire economy and the society suffers as a result.
In some cases, however, responsible censorship is necessary to prevent individuals who are not permitted from accessing certain websites. For instance, parents should not allow children to access obscene websites and information on the internet. Where some groups have become defamatory, where copyrights are likely to be violated, or where there is harassment, internet access can be blocked for such individuals or groups. In that case, censorship is justifiable. It should, however, not go as far as becoming a regular practice wherever the government or certain individuals intend to stamp their authority on others or on the society. In fact whenever some people feel trumped on by the government, they circumvent the censorship by use of virtual private networks. This illustrates the extent to which people are willing to go to maintain their freedom.
In conclusion, internet censorship is a sign of retrogressive tendencies. It adversely affects the society economically, socially, and politically. Such a practice needs to be discouraged. In democratic societies, internet censorship is a sign of the government tending towards dictatorship. In authoritarian regimes typically seen in the Middle and Far East, internet censorship has resulted in formation of societies and economies that are closed.