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On Internet Censorship

On Internet Censorship



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Published by Gzalzi

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Published by: Gzalzi on May 30, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Crump 5On Internet CensorshipFrom the inception of the Internet, as a tool for government communications,there are those who try to censor the content displayed therein. Today, there are atleast thirteen countries that censor a major part of the Internet (List). Thosecountries are not the only that censor the Internet; the majority of world powers atleast censor the Internet some, including the United States and twenty-four othercountries (Survey). As it stands, any government that values freedom of speech andexpression should not be putting resources into Internet censorship. The censorshipof the Internet violates our basic liberties as well as suppressing creativity and freethought. Many companies and groups also aid governments in censoring theInternet even though they say they intend to do no evil. The blocking of content on the Internet by world government is a seriousviolation of one’s most basic freedoms, the freedoms of free speech and expression.In the United States, the Constitution protects its people from any of the threats of oppressive governments. Specifically, the first amendment states that “Congressshall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” Thisprovision should put a stop to most forms of censorship, yet Internet censorshipprevails at least some. The Children’s Internet Protection Act is one of the firstpieces of legislation passed by the United States government to censor the Internet. The law forces any school or library that accepts public funding to install programsthat block websites (Federal). These government funded censorship programs meanto “protect” children from “offensive” and sexually explicit material, yet theseprograms filter plenty of highly informational sites (Gauthier). Even without the
Crump 5government-imposed censorship of computer systems, the information people arereceiving is filtered based on the company they are using to search.Private companies like Google, who do business with countries that censorthe Internet more, thoroughly seem to comply with such restrictions without muchof a fight. Even when search companies do attempt to fight black, the usualresolutions end up with many pieces of information still blocked (Rosen). Many feelthat American companies that do business in countries like China are not doingenough to resist the attempts by their governments to censor data. Some feel thatthese companies are helping the oppression of free speech become easier. Thecompany Cisco has been criticized highly for these acts. A presentation for aChinese subcommittee at Cisco showed that the company was helping the Chinesegovernment with the “Golden Shield Project.” The project helps maintain China’s“great firewall” and to help repress information about religious groups that theChinese government persecutes (Broache). Human rights activists are eagerlypreparing a “Code of Conduct” that addresses American companies on how tooperate over-seas. These activist groups are worried about companies becoming “…complicit in this censorship of the Internet.” Human Rights Watch, an activist group,brings to light the fact that some companies will even block access to materialbefore the government even requests it censored, hoping to stay on thegovernment’s good side. With the help of companies like Google, Yahoo, and Cisco,the Chinese government has been able to censor information of the Internet, closedown sites of dissenters, and even arrest freedom fighters (Williams).One of the most important parts of liberty is our ability to express ourthoughts; our ideas and opinions, without fear of punishment by our governingbodies. Art is one of the many forms of expression that people attempt to censor.
Crump 5Many artists create works that people find offensive; these works tend to bring out amessage that many do not agree with or they think is obscene. While many worksof art push the borders of what people think is right and wrong, such as an artexhibit in Mexico did when the artist allowed a dog to starve to death as part of thedisplay, as well as offending select groups, such as an American war exhibit thatrequired one to walk on an American flag to see it. Just because one disagrees withwhat is shown does not mean that people should be allowed to ban the use of suchlanguage, thought, or Ideas. Such a case happened when WorldNetDaily alerted theFBI that Wikipedia was hosting child pornography. The offending image was analbum cover for the metal band “Scorpions” from their 1976 album “Virgin Killer.” The album cover features a very young girl with no clothes in a suggestive pose,even though there is no actually nudity. On other parts of Wikipedia, there are othercontroversial pictures such as images on pages about strippers and the DutchMohammed illustrations. Groups like Morality in Media are catching on to Wikipedianow that it is becoming a renowned source for basic information. These groups tryto get offensive” content removed from Wikipedia, but The Wikimedia Foundation’scommunications head says that censorship groups misunderstand how it definesappropriate content. He says, “It isn’t a matter of view or taste. If it is notable, thecommunity tries to direct attention to that as a group and ask themselves if it’s anappropriate topic.” Even so, the community and administrators usually include allcontent except in the most extreme cases (Dye).No matter the reason for censorship, be it to protect minors from “harmful”material such as the Children’s Internet Protection Act does in America or thebanning of hate speech, pornography, and “adult” rated videogames in Australia(Riley), or to satisfy an oppressive government and special interest groups,

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