Internet censorship has long been an important discussion topic of computing around the world. One school of thought is of the view that there must be some rules in place to censor the contents of the internet. On the other hand, many people are of the view that there should not be any restriction on expression of thoughts on the internet. The history of internet censorship is as old as internet is. The purpose of this essay is to analyze the ever changing needs of censorship in the history of the internet. The main focus of the essay is to emphasis that censorship is important if characterized by unbiased approach.
There are many reasons behind censoring the internet content. Most of the times, the reason behind censoring some content is to prevent the users from harm or some misleading content. Censorship is adopted by governments, private agencies, or any organization. In educational institutions and offices Facebook is blocked because the students and employees waste their precious time and resources for entertainment. Moreover, it is important to block the websites that are made to loot people through variety of scams. So in this case, censorship is important to prevent the students and employees to waste the scarce resources of the organization. Similarly, there is a need to monitor and block the websites that are deceiving people through scams.
Not all the times the censorship is right. There are some occasions when a government or private organization show hate by blocking a website or censoring contents of a website. Pornographic materials and internet prostitution is prohibited in many countries. These countries block all websites that contain pornographic or related materials. This kind of censorship is debatable whether it is wrong or right because these websites are most of the time visited by children below 18. But some countries have blocked YouTube in the recent years because someone published a video that contained content that is blasphemous for a religion. So this kind of censorship is not right. Blocking a complete website is totally wrong because there are a lot of useful and educational recourses on YouTube and due to complete blockage of YouTube, those people would not be able to access the useful content of the website.
There is a consensus on censoring some unethical and abusive practices on the internet. But some countries allow all type of content of websites. On the other hand, some countries allow some of the following content. The content that is generally blocked by governments includes,
- Hate speech websites about anyone
- Illegal drug promotion websites
- Child pornography websites
- Websites calling for violence
- Websites run by criminals
- Websites about Nazi and similar thoughts
- Websites that contain blasphemous material
- Websites that contain defamation content
- Websites that include political criticism and stire
Although, almost all countries have been observed to block one thing or another but there are some notable websites that have been blocked over the last couple of years. Some examples of the content blocked in recent past is as follows,
- South Korea and other countries blocking websites that contain content to favor policies of North Korean.
- India blocking websites that provoke conflicts in the domestic matters in the country
- Muslim Brotherhood websites blocked by Middle Eastern countries in the wake of Arab Spring
- Wikileaks website blocked around the world because of hacking bulk data
- 4chan website blocked due to anonymity factor
The above mentioned websites were causing political or some other kind of unrest in many countries. These websites were also harming or misguiding people of certain countries that is why these websites were blocked by authorities.
At the end we can conclude that there is a need to censor the content on the internet that is directly or indirectly harming people. There is variety of content on the internet that is harmful for vulnerable people because many people on the internet are posting hateful, sectarian and terrorism related content on the websites. Moreover, there are people on the internet, who are looting innocent people through organized scams. So from the above discussion it is clear that censoring websites is not bad if it is based on a genuine reason.