Global Look At Internet Censorship Essay

2818 words - 11 pages

Global Look at Internet Censorship

Introduction

Many Americans take for granted the freedom that living in the United States allows us. As we go through our days, we whine about our bosses, the governor’s latest political agenda, or read commentary about how the war in Iraq is morally wrong. Whether we are sending e-mail, posting on message boards, or reading the news online, we are guaranteed the same freedom of self expression that we enjoy offline. In other countries, the mere act of accessing websites that criticize the government is an offense that can land you in prison. Within this paper, we will explore Internet Censorship as a global issue as well as an ethical issue.

The Internet

The Internet, while relatively young, has made its way into the everyday life many in the United States. It allows for instantaneous communication with others around the world and not just person to person communication but mass communication. The Internet has become a popular medium since it incorporates characteristics of several other media and communication systems, i.e. print, broadcast, and postal systems.[1] Despite being such a powerful tool, the Internet is now affordable for most of the world’s population. Internet cafes have sprung up in nations around the world, providing people with a quick, easy and cheap way to interact with the Internet. “The Internet has the potential to be a tremendous force for development by providing quick and inexpensive information, by encouraging discussion rather than violence, and by empowering citizens …”[2] It has facilitated the flow of information, has no national boundaries. While the Internet as a whole can not be controlled by any one country, or even a group of countries, nations can pass laws to limit the access of certain types of data, and force filters upon servers. Filtering websites and data is a way of limiting the freedom of expression and is a form of censorship. Why would countries want to censor such a potentially useful tool? The Internet, as the first truly "mass" medium, is even more threatening than these earlier media.[3] While few individuals and groups can publish books or newspapers, make a film, or produce a radio or television program, any person with a personal computer and a modem can communicate with a huge international audience.

A Look at Censorship

Censorship can take many forms. While many people may automatically associate censorship with intrusion into one’s natural right, developed nations have passed laws and regulations to limit the content of the Internet. Those who argue for censorship say that it prevents the spread of dangerous information, and prevents minors from accessing offensive material. Dangerous information can include websites with bomb making directions, suicide helper sites, or even political commentaries. Not to long ago, websites that promoted anorexia (pro-anorexia, sometimes called pro-ana) were on the news. The websites included...

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