. . . , but I will defend to the death your right to say it. (Voltaire)
I don’t believe in censorship . . well perhaps I do but only in the interest of protecting the young, the vulnerable and the marginalised say from abuse or pornography.
But when it comes to what sites I can access or become unwittingly being blocked because my Government doesn't want me to read something or because worse still, my IP makes a decision on what contains inappropriate, pornography, converse politics, violence, or unsuitable reading material - it is not their right to make that decision. Not at the expense of free speech or information exchange no matter how distasteful we may find it.
Don't get me wrong - I don’t think there should be full frontal nudity on TV at lunchtime and I don't want to watch biased and violent news reports at tea time or drama with excessive vulgar language or explicit sex before 9pm. These should be played later in the evening to avoid exposure to young children. I approve of a film rating system . . the bottom line in this type of censorship - it still allows me to make the choice as to whether I watch or not. I am in control of the remote! I do not approve of banning literature of any type. It's simply medieval to control the reading material of the masses and worse still replace it with sanitised versions off the truth.
Some Internet Providers (IP's) either package or promote ‘spam filters’, ‘disc nannys’, firewalls etc, to stop you accessing what THEY think could be damaging, biased, unsuitable, or even politically subversive information. Unless you have an IT bent, it is difficult to know what is being filtered from your view, what is being decided for you and what in fact you may never see because your security settings deem it unsuitable for your perusal. I'm not talking about pop up restriction here but actual blocking of sites.
If you have the know-how to temper your security settings well and good but I for one, wouldn’t know where to start . . .I only know that I am not overly filtered because I CAN access sites such as Al Jazeera and some others which might be considered contentious by the powers that be but they give me a broader perspective.
My rule of thumb has always been to embrace diversity. I don’t like everything I see or hear, indeed I am often repulsed by sites, books, newspapers and television programmes that I happen along but it's my choice whether to take these on board or move along.
Similarly with opinion on the internet or blogs, I may not agree with you but I will not fall out with you just because you don’t share my view. How are we ever going to learn from each other or understand the external world if we constantly try to stymie free speech among friends and healthy debate between adversaries? Look where a lack of meaningful dialogue has brought world politics! Attempts to censor the internet are insidious. It is not the prerogative of IP’s or software providers to determine what is appropriate for my eyes and what isn’t unless I choose to moderate my security settings of my own free will.
Emerging and non democratic countries are playing catch up trying to censor the internet, email, IM access across the world. It’s proving a difficult and very time consuming task and to some extent. I abhor US companies which are restricting not only the free speech of their own citizens but actively assisting in the prevention of free speech, no free 'criticism', in the emerging world.
The internet is playing a leading role in citizens talking to government and often challenging its rules. A growing number of regimes are experiencing the difficulty of choosing between open communication and economic development or closed communication and controlling ‘dangerous’ ideas. This is not peculiar to developing countries as evidenced by the fact that an IP can actually block you from accessing particular sites unless you know how to change the security settings.
China maintains the world's most effective internet censorship, dubbed "The Great Firewall" . Tens of thousands of people are employed to monitor web traffic. Western companies such as Cisco, Yahoo, Google and Microsoft have willingly assisted officials in their goals and ensured that ‘sensitive’ material relating particularly to Taiwan and now Tibet are removed.
This is going to be harder as over 210 million Chinese access the net with 200,000 more going online for the first time every day . This hopefully will lead to a shift in the country's relationship with central power, allowing an opportunity for individuals to challenge government policy.
Iran, especially under the leadership of hardliner President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has led a purging of journalists, dissidents, prominent women and unionists. Yet there are many bloggers there who challenge the mullah’s grip on power while western companies contribute to the country’s isolation. Yahoo and Microsoft quietly removed Iran from the country lists of their webmail services last year.. Google's Gmail service still features Iran on its country list.
Internet censorship is becoming a key human rights issue around the world.
Without bloggers in Saudi Arabia, we would have little idea of the nation's true state.
The internet will not automatically democratise all societies or bring Western-style reform. Many bloggers and activists probably hope for the opposite. Its uncontrolled unpredictability has proven to the mainstream media that local voices can bring their opinions to the world.
In conclusion IP’s , Google, Cisco, MSN, Microsoft whoever . . . DO NOT ASSUME I CANNOT SELF REGULATE. I don’t want everything filtered to the max. I could research this more, I could write a thesis on the need to be allowed to choose what I read and access but I think you get the gist.
Australia’s laws on Internet censorship are, theoretically, amongst the most restrictive in the Western world. However, the restrictive nature of the laws has been combined with almost complete lack of interest in enforcement from the agencies responsible. Bless Aussie apathy!
You internet users - be prepared for an information superhighway that will not only enlighten and elucidate, but will teach you how the other half lives. Be critical in your reading and open in your interpretation and for God's sake learn how to moderate your IP security settings.
Mind you an uncensored internet will also shower you with sexy ladies, large penises, viagra, cialis, cheap meds, free degrees, ringtones and will be sure to make your lady squirm! Me love you long time!
This is interesting: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=1061