In the article, “How governments censor the web”, the BBC News reported that countries around the world are now censoring their citizens’ use of the Internet. Some countries are blocking certain sites; others are going as far as restricting use to certain populations, and others don’t allow it at all. “In North Korea only selected government officials get access to the net and then on connections rented from China” (BBC). China has a sophisticated system, which has been in the works since “around the same time as Microsoft founder Bill Gates” was developing his programs (BBC).
What has become known as “the Great Firewall of China – a network of state-licensed internet access providers, and around 30,000 internet police” is what China implemented after Tiananmen in 1989. These access providers have to censor sites and monitor for “politically-sensitive terms in agreement with conditions set by Beijing” in order to serve the citizens of China and the countries it rents its services to. (BBC). Major corporations who are vying for global dollars will follow the restrictions set forth by the countries because they want the money.
The countries, on the other hand, want to be online because it is “a critical avenue for commerce” (BBC). Restricting and monitoring use and punishing citizens who abuse the laws is a necessary means to an end. When once “Very few dictators understood that they had to control the web as they did traditional media”, they are now getting the picture. (BBC). If other media is and can be controlled, it only makes sense that Internet as a medium would be controlled as it is much more powerful and more people can access it.
It has more sway than traditional media and many more outlets. I agree with some censorship of the Internet. On a basic level, restricting adult content material sites to those over 18 years of age is essential. On a more broad scale, monitoring who is looking up how to make bombs, who is soliciting children over the Internet, and who is threatening terrorism are all examples of why the Internet should be monitored or restricted. The Internet can and is a valuable tool, especially for commerce.
It is also very powerful, especially as a tool for media. Countries desire it primarily for commercial use and for a competitive edge in the global market. However, they also realize the threat that malcontents can spread hate and anti establishment messages. Taking measures to preserve a county’s government by censoring Internet usage is not unreasonable, especially in countries where media is already censored and where freedom of speech is not a right.
Amateur media writers are being held accountable by governments, as they would if they were writing for an established and well trusted newspaper. Even though the USA offers freedom of speech, there are still guidelines that have to be followed when presenting information to the public. Internet access is wonderful, but care must be taken to ensure anarchy does not ensue.
- BBC News. (March 22, 2007). How governments censor the web. Retrieved March 23, 2007, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6475911.stm