Blocking websites on the Internet
“Internet censorship is the control or suppression of what can be accessed, published, or viewed on the internet. It may be carried out by governments, private organizations at the behest of government, regulators, or on their own initiative. Individuals and organizations may engage in self-censorship for moral, religious, or business reasons, to conform to societal norms, due to intimidation, or out of fear of legal or other consequences,” says Wikipedia Internet Censorship.
Internet censorship can often be as hotly debated a topic as free speech is all over the world. On one hand the debate that supports censorship believes there should not be material, be it words, photographs, sounds and moving images that depict violence towards any human, as well as hate speech, discriminatory language and the kind of information out there that would teach people murderous and criminal activities such as how to make bombs on YouTube.com.
On the other hand, the proponents of free speech and those who combat Internet censorship believe human beings should possess the intelligence and the intellectual capability to make up their own minds about what they will chose to pay attention to on the Internet. If someone wants to produce something that is undesirable and goes against the moral grain of the public, as well as the general laws of any given society, as long as they are exercising their right to free speech under the First Amendment in the United States of America and under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Canada as just two examples in North America, which are heavily tuned into the Internet, they should have the right to do so.
“Opinions on the topic of Internet censorship vary, with arguments being made both for and against censorship. Moreover, the extent of Internet censorship varies on a country-to-country basis. While some countries have little Internet censorship, other countries go as far as to limit the access of information such as news and suppress discussion among citizens. Internet censorship also occurs in response to or in anticipation of events such as elections, protests, and riots. An example is the increased censorship due to the events of the Arab Spring. Other areas of censorship includes copyrights, defamation, harassment, and obscene material,” says Wikipedia Internet Censorship.
“Many of the issues associated with Internet censorship are similar to those for offline censorship of more traditional media such as newspapers, magazines, books, music, radio, television, and film. One difference is that national borders are more permeable online: residents of a country that bans certain information can find it on websites hosted outside the country. Thus censors must work to prevent access to information even though they lack physical or legal control over the websites themselves. This in turn requires the use of technical censorship methods that are unique to the Internet, such as site blocking and content filtering,” says Wikipedia Internet Censorship.
Internet censorship around the world
As more people in more places begin using the Internet for important activities, there is an increase in online censorship, using increasingly sophisticated techniques. The motives, scope, and effectiveness of Internet censorship vary widely from country to country. The countries engaged in state-mandated filtering are clustered in three main regions of the world: east Asia, central Asia, and the Middle East/North Africa. Countries in other regions also practice certain forms of filtering. In the United States state-mandated Internet filtering occurs on some computers in libraries and K-12 schools. Content related to Nazism orHolocaust denial is blocked in France and Germany. Child pornography and hate speech are blocked in many countries throughout the world. In fact, many countries throughout the world, including some democracies with long traditions of strong support for freedom of expression and freedom of the press, are engaged in some amount of online censorship, often with substantial public support. Internet censorship in China is among the most stringent in the world. The government blocks Web sites that discuss the Dalai Lama, the 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen Square protesters, Falun Gong, the banned spiritual practice, and many other Internet sites. The government requires Internet search firms and state media to censor issues deemed officially “sensitive,” and blocks access to foreign websites including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. There are international bodies that oppose internet censorship, for example “Internet censorship is open to challenge at the World Trade Organization (WTO) as it can restrict trade in online services, a forthcoming study argues,” says Wikipedia Internet Censorship.
OpenNet Initiative reports
“Through 2010 the OpenNet Initiative had documented Internet filtering by governments in over forty countries worldwide. The level of filtering in 26 countries in 2007 and in 25 countries in 2009 was classified in the political, social, and security areas. Of the 41 separate countries classified, seven were found to show no evidence of filtering in all three areas (Egypt, France, Germany,India, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and United States), while one was found to engage in pervasive filtering in all three areas (China), 13 were found to engage in pervasive filtering in one or more areas, and 34 were found to engage in some level of filtering in one or more areas. Of the 10 countries classified in both 2007 and 2009, one reduced its level of filtering (Pakistan), five increased their level of filtering (Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, South Korea, and Uzbekistan), and four maintained the same level of filtering (China, Iran, Myanmar, and Tajikistan),” says Wikipedia Internet Censorship.