Around the world, Internet censorship is growing. There has been significant growth in Internet censorship recently in the United States, India, Germany, Brazil, China, Iran, Ukraine, and Mexico. This means that during our lifetime, 6 out of 10 people worldwide have seen increased restrictions on Internet usage. In total, it is estimated that 80% of people worldwide do not have access to unrestricted Internet. Simply put, Internet censorship is a real issue that will affect you during your life.
Does Internet censorship really matter? What is to be gained or lost by having strict control over Internet usage? Lets take this into consideration as we review pros and cons associated with Internet censorship. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, the best thing you can do is to continue reading and become better informed.
The Pros of Internet Censorship
1. Protects vulnerable populations.
Internet censorship has the strong ability to protect vulnerable populations from harm. Consider children for example. On a strictly regulated Internet, it is argued that child predation is lower, as well as the child’s ability to access confusing or inappropriate information for their age. In addition, it is argued that the mentally disabled, prison populations, and other special groups benefit from increased Internet censorship.
2. Decreases intellectual property theft.
A strong reasons why forms of Internet censorship is being pushed in developed countries is because it is seen as a type of intellectual property saver. With a free and open Internet, it is argued that stealing intellectual property is easier. By providing a certain degree of censorship, the government can protect the intellectual property rights of their companies against those both locally and abroad that would steal it.
The Cons of Internet Censorship
1. Limits the freedom of speech and the press.
It is argued that a government can only truly be fair if it is open and transparent. A lack of Internet censorship means that people can say whatever they like, including direct contradiction to the ruling government. When speech is limited, individual citizens lose their voice and it is more challenging to report what is going on. This makes it easier for a government to control the population and break its own laws. When the Internet is censored, advocates argue that every single person not in the government loses out. Where once there was a voice against oppression there is now nothing.
2. Dramatically reduces innovation and progress.
The Internet is a confluence of ideas, opinions, innovation, technologies, and logic. It is a breeding ground for good ideas, where people can learn about anything they imagine. The Internet represents one of the most powerful learning tools out there. When it is censored and controlled, there is an attempt to shape what the person thinks by limiting their access to certain information. This can dramatically reduce innovation and technological progress in the name of safeguarding something deemed more important. Whether this be a patent or a ruling government, censorship of the Internet means stagnation.
3. Constitutes a significant investment on the part of those controlling access.
If nothing else, consider the amount of money a government has to spend in order to limit and patrol its censorship of the Internet. Along with high costs to start, there is also the continued cost of tracking, prosecuting, and recording. Along with the cost of controlling access comes the cost of personal freedom. An individual who has the right to search the Internet unfiltered will lose that right if it becomes more censored. In addition, they may even lose their right to privacy, as a censored Internet also means and increased chance of being tracked by whomever is controlling the Internet.
When it comes to Internet censorship, there are a number of pros and cons. Those listed above represent just the tip of the iceberg however. As Internet censorship continues to be an issue both locally and abroad, it has never been more important to have your voice heard regarding this issue. Your liberties may be threatened, and the best thing you can do is to become a part of the process responsible for securing them.