Internet Censorship Essay

Pages: 10 (2943 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 20  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Education - Computers

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] Many countries like the United States treat people participating in such activities with an entirely different rule book and set of standards and practices than people who commit perceived lesser crimes. Freedom of association is generally held to be a positive but when people are conversing with the outwardly stated purpose of overthrowing government and/or committing mass murder in all ways possible, the normal perceptions about freedom of expression and speech are generally thrown out the window.

A final con to freedom of expression is lack of accountability. Whether a person uses his or her actual name or not, a lot can be said and done on the internet that is very destructive. Posting compromising private pictures and revealing sensitive information are just some of the examples. Many such activities are not illegal and that should probably remain the case because of the extreme lengths that such regulation can be taken, but some very destructive and insidious activities can be done on the internet and the fallout from such behavior can be massive and long-lasting. Consequences can range from temporary and fleeting to long-lasting and pervasive. For example, most would probably argue that people are free to join and participate on Facebook. However, posting pictures from a raucous party or a picture that is sexually explicit can have wide-reaching effects including the loss of a marriage to the loss of a job.

Freedom of expression left unchecked is perceived to be a cause of the coarsening of public discourse. Politics is a good example of this. The caustic nature of many politically-motivated posts takes many people aback and there is little to nothing that can be done to stop it. Many people deride this as a sad state of affairs, but no solutions to this perceived problem are apparent as the only obvious way to address is it to make people clam up. The author of this paper has even seen people in the media advocate controls on political speech. Given the American right to freedom of the press and freedom of speech, that is quite interesting to say the least.

While one can argue, and rightly so, that people should be held accountable for their actions both criminally and ethically, the same is true of people who make assumptions and/or spread information that really should not be spread and that do not consider the consequences behind such actions. It is true that embarrassing results can be pure accidental but the results are often all the same. On the other hand, people that engage in this activity on purpose with the sole express purpose of harming others in any way possible, it is an unfortunate true that little to nothing can be done that truly provides justice to the harmed party.

Effects of Pros and Cons on Freedom of Expression

The censorship or disablement of the Internet in any way often causes a raucous and chaotic response. A sterling example of this in action was the actions taken by Egypt during the last throes of the Mubarak regime. After three days of vitriolic protests that were in large part organized through social media sites like Facebook, Egypt took the largely unprecedented step of completely shutting off the Internet (Dibbell, 2012). History has shown since then that this just inflamed the populace even more and the decision to staunch online communication was eventually undone.

Another effect that online activity restriction can have is the thought that such actions are inherently incompatible with the precepts of democracy and freedom of speech in general (Morozov, 2011). Such questions have been posed based on the restrictions placed on the online activities and speech of people in South Korea (Fish, 2009). The government has stated its need to engage in such activity. However, the country's populaces as well as observers outside of the country have vehemently condemned the behavior (Fish, 2009). A similar set of circumstances have come to be in Turkey (Ozkan & Arikan, 2009). Countries that installed such measures have been usurped by people that continue their online activities under pseudonyms (Talbot, 2009).

For all of the derision that is aimed at censorship of web materials, there are situations where it can and should be done. People that are quick to slam the restriction of online discourse always seem to limit their discussion to how oppressive it is and why it is wrong. However, research bears out that some online activity is inherently and solely insidious and/or illegal in nature and that some speech should be quashed. This is validated by the whole "crying fire in a crowded theater" routine. One can argue all day that freedom of speech is freedom of speech but if the speech is illegal, dangerous, hurts the vulnerable including children, or anything else that infringes on the liberty or the safety of another, it must be limited and/or stopped via all reasonable means.

The other side of that coin, however, is how far certain agencies, governments and people often go in the name of doing the right thing. After all, motives are not always pure and what is deemed to be proper and justifiable can vary from person to person and government to government. For example, the United States is fairly loose and forgiving with what can be posted on the internet while countries like China are very controlling and strict in their policies regarding what can be available on the internet. For example, there is no shortage of material available for review on the Occupy Wall Street movements in the United States. Information about the American movement even pervades the regular news media, not to mention all of the blogs and other sites that permeate with material about the movement. However, if one assumes the same is true about Falun Gong in China, one would be mistaken. That movement as well as the pages and activities of known dissidents in general are staunchly regulated and blocked all of the time.

One need not go that far to make the point of people going too far. As noted elsewhere in this report, sex education is deemed to be a necessary component of a child's education. However, many governments are rather conservative in nature as well as many parents, and this leads to them caterwauling when material and subjects they deem to be improper are disseminated to students in any official or unofficial capacity, and this is true of material covered in class as well as information available on the Internet. Freedom of expression dictates that the information should be widely available but many governments, parents, and other entities want this material regulated and blocked, as necessary. Obviously, there is a wide array of positions taken on the matter and there is no single web regulation solution that will placate all parties involved.

Conclusion

As has been made clear over the course of this report, the research bears out that the intentions behind censorship range from good intentions to the oppressing of populations and the verdict about such censorship tends to be condemnatory of the general behavior of censorship in all of its forms and functions. Research shows that while some censorship is probably required, it needs to be done in a balanced way and less is generally more (Peace, 2003).

References

Calingaert, D. (2010). Authoritarianism vs. The Internet. Policy Review. 160 (1), 63-75.

Dibbell, J. (2012). The Shadow Web. Scientific American. 306 (3), 60-65.

Eneman, M. (2010). ISP Filtering of Chlid-Abusive Material: A Critical Reflection of Its

Effectiveness. Journal of Sexual Aggression. 16 (2), 223-235.

Essex, D. (2009). From Deleting Online Predators to Educating Internet Users. Young Adult Library Services. 7 (3), 36-45.

Fish, E. (2009). Is Internet Censorship Compatible With Democracy. Asia-Pacific

Journal on Human Rights & The Law. 10 (2), 43-96.

Giles, J.. (2011). Piracy Bill Walks the Plank. New Scientist. 212 (2841), 28.

Greengard, S. (2010). Censored!. Communications of the ACM. 53 (7), 16-18.

Greengard, S. (2012). Law & Disorder. Communications of the ACM. 55 (1), 23-25.

Morozov, E. (2011). Dictatorship.com. New Scientist. 209 (2802), 30-31.

Nantai, S.M. & Cockerline, G. (2010). Internet Filtering in Schools: Protection or Censorship?. Journal of Cirriculum & Pedagogy. 7 (2), 51-53.

Ozkan, H. & Arikan, A. (2009). Internet Censorship in Turkey: University Stuents'

Opinions. World Journal on Educational Technology. 1 (1), 46-56.

Palfrey, J. (2010). Four Phases of Internet Regulation. Social Research. 77 (3), 981-

Peace, A. (2003). Balancing Free Speech & Censorship. Communications of the ACM.

46 (11), 105-109.

Penny, L. (2011). More Sex Education, Please, and Less Censorship. New Statesman.

140 (5075), 15.

Penny, L.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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