With the advance of the Internet, the introduction of citizen journalism, and the march of civil rights and bids for freedoms there is a seemingly constant debate over how free the Internet really is. Does it offer complete freedom of speech? Does the government censor or monitor online activities?
The honest answer is that many governments as well as companies and even individuals do censor the Internet to some degree and the websites you use may well do the same so the World Wide Web isn’t quite as free as many might believe.
Blogs are often seen as the online activists’ medium of choice. They are, by their definition, a channel on which individual users can express their thoughts and opinions on any topic that takes their interest. However, research by the OpenNet Initiative shows that 20% of all sites that are censored are blogs. It would appear that while free speech may be alive, free reading is being hampered, but what exactly can governments and world powers do in order to censor websites?
How Do Governments Block Internet Access?
Some governments have a large degree of control over the Internet Service Providers that operate within their country. In these cases, it is a relatively simple matter for the government to block access to the Internet and keep a beady eye on those that do access the web. Egypt and Libya are believed to have used this method in order to prevent dissidents and anti-government protestors from being able to use the Internet to arrange marches and protests.
How Do Governments Bring Down Sites?
The Government can also request user data about certain websites while also posting a content removal request to websites and their hosting companies. This type of censorship is most commonly used to bring down specific websites that have been found to be displaying illegal content or content that is seen to be damaging to national security. The US attempted to close down around 10 child pornography websites but instead managed to bring 84,000 legitimate websites that were hosted by a free domain service.
As the largest and most widely used of all the social networks, Facebook is one of the websites that most governments monitor. While Iran, Pakistan, and China intermittently block or filter the website, it is Syria and North Korea that appear to permanently block access to the site.
YouTube is also of interest to governments because of the type of content it can potentially hold. Countries like China, Turkey, and Brazil have been known to block access to the entire site for political reasons or during certain events. Tunisian citizens have been unable to view YouTube since 2007, allegedly after a video mocking the president was found on the website.
So, is The Internet Free..?
Next time you’re watching a video on YouTube or joining a chat on Facebook about politics remember that not everybody in the world is fortunate enough to be able to enjoy that level of freedom of speech and many are completely unable to view websites except for those that the government allows them to. The Internet is not as free as many believe.
This post was provided by Broadbandchoices.co.uk; for a comprehensive and impartial broadband speed test