One of the most popular yet controversial innovations of technology is the internet. It is a medium for self-expression and disseminating information across on a global scare. However, despite the benefits it offers millions of users, there are also setbacks that drive people and nations to push for and practice internet censorship.
What is Internet Censorship?
This is the act of banning or blocking some or all of content that can be published, viewed and accessed online. Sectors which implement this ban can include governments, private sectors and individuals with a common goal to control what people can read and post on the World Wide Web. Some countries impose direct censorship, others have stringent policies against unlawful posting online while there are countries who are somewhat lenient with videos going viral.
The contentious issue on how much information should be out there in the internet and whether there should be some sort of censorship remain to be divided between supporters and critics. Here is a look at the top pros and cons by these two opposing groups.
List of Pros of internet Censorship
1. It will keep children from being victims of sex trafficking and pornography.
Proponents of controlling content on the internet claim that innocent children who become preys of predators waiting to engage young kids in child pornography and other malicious acts that can be made possible via the internet are given protection. With this, violators will be punished and lesser children will be victims.
2. A free society should be able to set limits.
Some journalists who advocate for internet censorship maintain that even if there is freedom of speech and expression, there shouldn’t be absolute freedom. If there is no censorship of any kind, some individuals can be victims of cyber bullying and racist speech which should not be the case. These practices should not be allowed in cyberspace.
3. Parents cannot be there always to watch out for their kids.
Proponents of internet censorship point out that parents have the responsibility to teach children about morality and guide them on what is good or bad but the truth is, they also have to earn a living to provide for their kids. They do not have the capacity to be on watch on most parts of the day.
4. It can control illegal activities.
Supporters claim that regulating content in the internet is an effective way to lessen if not totally deter illegal activities because it keeps people from promoting malicious content which can easily influence others, if no regulations are imposed.
5. It helps in strengthening national security.
By implementing laws against hacking and imposing hefty punishment to violators, national security can be preserved. Without any form of censorship, it will be impossible to keep bad elements and terrorists from accessing information that will pose a threat to the security of the nation.
6. It lessens the incidents of identity theft.
Advocates for internet censorship say that by limiting what information is accessed in the internet, personal information will not be easily accessed. By using anti-phishing software, which serves as a form of internet censorship since it warns the user that a kind of software is trying to get access, it gives the user the chance to keep hackers and companies from getting pertinent information.
List of Cons of Internet Censorship
1. It removes the freedom of expression and deprives people of learning the truth.
Opponents of internet censorship argue that by making this a law, freedom of the press, expression and speech is killed and is a violation of the First Amendment, which includes the prohibition of making a law that infringes freedom of the press and speech, among others. For them, censorship will be a violation of this amendment. Moreover, if people are not given the opportunity to learn the truth, this can lead to ignorance.
2. It can be used by the government to keep pertinent information from its citizens.
Critics also say that by implementing a law on internet censorship, abusive government officials will get away with their wrong practices such as abuse of power and corruption. A government leader, for example, can ban the release of videos and online content proving his or her illegal activities by imposing news blackout. They also claim that dictators can use this to only publish images and stories that will work for their personal gain and not of his or her constituents.
3. It is an added expense to the government.
People who are not in favor of censoring the internet argue that in order to implement censorship and ensure all areas are covered the government needs to invest in equipment, man power and other costs. Aside from upfront expenses, there are also added costs for maintenance and monitoring. And with the power of the internet and its coverage, it is impossible to be on monitor 24/7 and not spend for it.
4. It can harm businesses.
Critics of internet censorship say that there are businesses that rely on the internet to advertise their services and products. Banning their websites to be accessed by consumers of legal age will harm the sales and profit of these companies. If censorship is implemented, these businesses will not be able to reach its global market.
5. People can practice self-autonomy.
Some groups that oppose censorship argue that individuals can have control of what to see and read, making it irrelevant to have a law banning content online. They also add that parents should take the extra effort to monitor what their children are searching online and this is part of their responsibilities as parents.
The controversial debate on internet censorship will continue to be a hot topic. Both sides have relevant points about controlling which content can be accessed and published or not. Other countries like China and Turkey are adamant in banning content which they think are inappropriate. Perhaps internet censorship should be regulated so as to have balance although absolute censorship might not be the solution.