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The use of the internet has generated a lot of debates ranging from its benefits to its negative impact on society. Amid these debates, there is also a growing concern for countries, or internet providers to censor its use. It is worth noting that the internet is an important tool for doing business, communication and connecting with the outside world. It also provides people and the society at large with a lot of information that may help to stamp out ignorance. On the other hand, it can act as a tool for vices and illegal activities. For instance, thanks to the internet, children can now access pornographic and violent videos which may be harmful to their psychological and emotional well-being. Also, the internet makes it possible for hackers to interfere with people’s privacy, interfere with their personal information and worse still, and tarnish their reputation. The business community is also at risk as hackers, and other cybercriminals are now able to penetrate into their system and commit whatever crimes they intend to do. This and many other disadvantages of the internet are what make it plausible to think of limiting its accessibility. In this respect, the discussion below elaborates on both the positive and negative impacts of internet censorship.
Positive impacts of internet censorship on society
The move to limit the use of the internet may serve as a protection measure against activities that are harmful to society. The internet as it is open to everyone to use, it raises the question of whether the content available on the internet is all good. For instance, there is a lot of pornographic materials online that have the potential to affect the well-being of children, especially, psychologically. Other harmful material for children includes material that contains too much violence and abusive language (Bristow, 2010, June 8). There is also evidence to suggest that pedophiles have found the internet as an easier way to target children, for it provides a huge engagement platform. To ensure that children have a clean soul, moral values, and protection against disturbing websites, it could be argued that censorship of the internet would be an appropriate step (Future of Networking, 2016, March 27). It follows then that the use of the internet has some impact on how healthy children develop and grow, either in regards to their personality or about their emotional well-being. Therefore, for the reasons argued above, it is worth to either filter or limits the use of the internet.
In addition to the benefit argued above, the censorship has the potential to protect the economic interest of business people. The fact that information of all form or type is available online, there is the likelihood of people relaying information intended to tarnish the image of a given business. The internet has a huge audience, and the rate of spreading the information is also high, which will see the business go down within a very short time. Also, banking fraud is a common thing nowadays, thanks to the use of the internet (Future of Networking, 2016, March 27). Therefore, censorship of the internet is useful to filter out fraudulent information and thus promote a healthy environment for business people to operate their businesses. The restriction will also avoid cases of financial frauds, theft of credit cards, phishing and many other cyber activities that are primarily considered harmful to the economy, and in effect, to the society. This is another reason that demonstrates how beneficial and positive to society will be the act of censorship.
There is the issue of personal privacy and security which can be exposed when one is using the internet or due to the advanced knowledge or skills hackers possess. It is no longer a secret that the use of the internet promotes internet bullying and other violent related activities. This is made worse when people promoting such activities remain anonymous. Therefore, it makes it harder to either stop them or charge them in a court of law. The effect of such bullying has gone to the extent of making people commit suicide. The internet violence is carried out in many ways, either by exposing people’s privacy which affect people’s emotional well-being or by use of abusive language (Future of Networking, 2016, March 27). This may be particularly harmful to public figures, whose reputation is critical so that the public can have confidence in them. The spread of rumor on the internet has seen many people falsely reported as dead. This has caused untold sufferings to the loved ones of those falsely reported as being dead. Therefore, these elements together with others such as defamation may very well be prevented by censorship of the internet. It is for this reasons that the censorship is such of great value to society.
Another positive attribute of censorship of the internet is the protection of national security. Since limiting the use of the internet has the potential to prevent a good number of activities considered to be illegal, especially, those that have come to be described as internet crimes, it, therefore, follows that the censorship is good for national security and society at large. One of the threats facing societies in modern times is terrorist’s activities, and with the use of the internet, terrorists see as the best way to threaten the state or the public, relay false information or create panic and fear (Future of Networking, 2016, March 27). These are some of the information that put the national security in jeopardy. If there would be such thing as limiting the use of the internet, then, the safety of people or the national security. For this reason, the censorship is of great importance for any society and must, therefore, be promoted.
The negative effects of Censorship
One of the negative effects that censorship of the internet poses to society is that it violates the basic elements of human rights in relation to freedom of speech. The internet, whether good or bad, is a crucial communicative tool, which offers a stage for people from all walks of life, and from different parts of the globe to share their views. Therefore, the platform, in line with the human rights on free speech ought to be a platform where people can share their perspectives irrespective of whether they are acceptable in society or not (Joyce, 2015, pp.493-514). The censorship, therefore, may act to limit some free speech. The act then puts a stabling block to the act of spreading of information. There are a number of people’s rights that may be affected through the censorship, and these are; the right to know, the right of communication and that of free speech. In most countries of the world, democracy is highly regarded as a form of governing people. The three rights that may be violated should include censorship of the internet happens, are key aspects of a mature democracy. Therefore, censorship of the internet may negatively affect the country’s democratic space, and should, therefore, be not something that needs to be embraced.
Another negative aspect regarding the censorship is that since it is going to be monitored by the government, it is highly likely that the same government may use it to silence dissenting opinions in society. The censorship may extend to include information or speeches that undermine the regime. Also, the authority may use the censorship to avoid the spread of information that tries to paint its policies in a bad light. Moreover, there would not be fair competition among political parties as censorship will be used to undermine the opposition party, so as it does not be at an advantageous position than the ruling party (Future of Networking, 2016, March 27). Moreover, censorship allows the government to cut the public from the information on the internet, which is a violation of the public’s right to get knowledge or know whatever information that is on the online platform. This, therefore, explains the negative implications of the censorship, which explains the reason why such a move must never be embraced or supported should there be such contemplation to try and limit the internet for public use.
Moreover, those opposed to the censorship argue that such a move will hinder the development of online trade or any other business related activity that is often carried out online. The internet has in recent past been used as a platform where trading activities are carried out. This is commonly referred to as the electronic commerce of the internet which has since replaced the traditional standard commerce that never cared so much about the internet (Aryan, Aryan, and Halderman, 2013). However, the benefits of the internet in commerce are that the issue of distance is no longer a concern and as such, the internet commerce has bridged other forms of transnational trade. Concerning the internet censorship, this is likely going to undermine the internet commerce and as such must never be encouraged. The censorship may include trade supervision, trade restriction or prevention of internet transmission. Moreover, the government or internet provider may limit access to the website which in turn will undermine the electronic commerce. According to World Trade Organization, the internet must never be limited or censored in any way as such a move introduces a huge barrier to trading activities within and between different nations (Aryan, Aryan, and Halderman, 2013). Moreover, the act will make the country not so attractive for foreign direct investment or exchange. One of the main considerations that countries or business people consider is the means of communication. In modern times, the internet forms an integral part of the tools that aids or facilitates business. Therefore, if the censorship happens, it will greatly undermine business, and no one will be willing to engage in business with such a country as the returns may not be as rewarding as in other countries.
Another negative impact of internet censorship is that it would affect study, work, and communication of people. In modern times, research heavily relies on the internet and for that reason, limiting access to the internet will have far-reaching negative implications on students, teachers and other scholars (Joyce, 2015, pp.493-514). Therefore, in order to allow people access as many information as they wish, such a move must strongly be avoided or not advocated at all. Closely related but different impact of the censorship would be discouraging the creativity of people. Moreover, lack of information or limiting information to people has the potential to make a society ignorant of many things. The information brings about truth which prevents people from living in ignorance but instead, tries to create a purposeful life based on facts (Joyce, 2015, pp.493-514). Also, entrepreneurial ideas or opportunities rely on the internet in many ways. First, various ideas may be derived from the internet and allow a person to pursue whichever idea he or she has through the internet. However, in the absence of such a platform, the ideas will have to be approved by boards or individuals which will now be dependent on other people to give a green light instead of entrepreneurs being given the opportunity to pursue their journey as they wish. This demonstrates how the censorship does not provide a healthy environment for growth or personal development. Therefore, such a move or proposal must never be encouraged.
In addition to the side effects that may result from the censorship, experts argue that trying to limit the public or completely shut down the internet is costly and that the cost boils down to taxpayers’ money. According to research carried out in 2015 by Darrell West, internet the cost of internet censorship amounted to $ 2.4 billion in a year alone. This suggests, although the government may consider it the right thing depending on the prevailing circumstance, it may as well be considered as a waste of public funds. In addition to being a waste of funds, it would be difficult to achieve when almost the rest of world is free to use the internet. This will create a situation where some countries or one country is an isolated case while others are enjoying the freedom and privileges that come with the internet Aryan et al., 2013). Therefore, the whole process of internet limitation or shut down, although can be beneficial to the government in many ways, it would be difficult to achieve or even implement in a world that has already been dominated with the internet, or among the people who are used to using the internet.
The discussion has therefore shown that the internet has both positive and negative impact on society. For that reason, its censorship will have both positive and negative implications on people and the society at large. Some of the positive effects that come with the internet censorship include preventing harmful information to the society or children such as pornographic videos. Also, the censorship may prevent cyberbullying, crime or other fraudulent activities carried out with the assistance of the internet. The government often limits the internet for national security which may include preventing any acts of threats that may be common among countries that are targeted with terrorists. On the other hand, the censorship may also come with a number of effects, for instance, it has the potential to affect business negatively, learning, and research or even facilitate the government into becoming a more oppressive regime. Also, it violates the freedom of expression, accessing information online and thus, will result to a society that is more ignorant. For this reason, there should be a balance between censorship and allow the use of the internet so that its use or censorship is of the greater good for the society.
Joyce, D., 2015. Internet freedom and human rights. European Journal of International Law, 26(2), pp.493-514.
Bristow, M. (2010, June 8). BBC News - China defends internet censorship. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8727647.stm
Aryan, S., Aryan, H. and Halderman, J.A., 2013, August. Internet Censorship in Iran: A First Look. In FOCI.
Future of Networking. (2016, March 27). 8 Advantages and Disadvantages of Internet Censorship | FutureofWorking.com. Retrieved from https://futureofworking.com/8-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-internet-censorship/
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