The paper “ Internet Censorship - Benefits and Detriments” is an impressive variant of an essay on information technology. The internet has been hailed as one of man’ s greatest achievements in the 20th century. The internet has been viewed as a cure to all society’ s problems in terms of communication, creation of employment solving economic problems among others. On the other hand, the internet has is perceived as a root of all social evil in the sense that it promotes intellectual piracy, promotes underage pornography, discourages face to face interactions, and is a hub for terror groups.
As a communication channel, there have been arguments that the internet should be controlled. On the other hand, proponents of human rights argue that controlling or censoring the internet amounts to a violation of the right to free speech which is protected under the UN declaration. The benefits and detriments to each side of the argument are many and numerous papers and reports have been published on the subject. This paper presents an extensive discussion on how Censorship can work in some instances but in others it can be a detriment to society using an array of current published literature. Problem backgroundThe internet should be censored or should not be censored are the two sides of this debate, but what is internet censorship?
Bidgoli (2011) defines internet censorship as the suppression of the publishing of information on the internet by an overseeing body. But who has a right to censor information given that no one organization or government has exclusive control of the internet? It is for this reason that Hunter (2012) notes that there are different internet censorship with the four main ones being home internet censorship, organizational internet censorship, national internet censorship, and international internet censorship.
There are various types of software programs in the market that are used to automatically filter out certain websites. These programs all track internet use and websites visited without detection by the user. At the family level, internet censorship is very helpful as it prevents young children from accessing offensive websites and materials on the internet. Such censorship is controlled by parents or adults in the family. Organizational censorship as the name suggests applies to organizations only.
Such censorship implies that all computers and other devices that can access the internet and are connected to an organization’ s internet access point cannot access certain websites as set by the organization. National internet censorship occurs where countries pass stipulations prohibiting access to certain websites. For this to happen, all ISP providers in such a country must be involved. Common examples include Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, and Burma. International censorship on the other hand occurs at an international level where access to information and various websites is censored across national boundaries (Lor & Britz, 2007; Bidgoli 2011).
From whatever level of censorship, the action has benefits and detriments. Another common classification of internet censoring recognizes three categories namely government monopolization, prepublication review, and licensing and registration. A good example of government monopolization is Saudi Arabia where all internet content in the country is closely controlled from a central point. The censorship in Saudi Arabia and a number of other Arab countries is based on the idea of preserving their moral values against an immoral western culture.
China on the other hand applies both prepublication review and licensing and registration. The Communist government of China is very sensitive to negative criticism and hence registration and licensing are a requirement to minimize cases of anonymous reporting mostly in criticism of the government (Bauml 2006). The prepublication review as a form of censorship involves the perusal of internet content by a third party, usually the government before the material is posted on the internet and made accessible to the public. This means that information that depicts the government negatively will never be published in certain countries.
Developed countries such as the UK, the US, and Australia have voiced their concerns about the need for democratic space on the internet.
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