Transition of Thoughts

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Online censorship – Is it right?

Internet has conquered most of the nooks and corners of the world. It is the ultimate storehouse of information for anyone from a 10 year old student to a 70 year old man. The net has become so popular that it has even been nominated for the Peace Prize for 2010 (though I disagree with it:P). As for any other medium of information, the net also has a lot of problems to contend with like piracy, identity theft, viewing unobjectionable content like porn or ban of certain articles, videos, sites etc in certain countries.

One of the most important questions nowadays is the censoring of this medium. With increasing popularity of any medium be it TV, movies, radio, print media like newspapers, magazines etc censoring of unobjectionable content does come into the picture. But the biggest question is who decides what to censor, when to censor and how much to censor? For countries like Iran, the Middle Eastern countries, China etc, the government has complete control over this issue. In India, this is handled by individual organizations or institutions.

So what kind of content is normally censored? In the Islamic countries and China, it mostly includes porn or any kind of sites or articles which are talking bad about their governments, bad stuff about Islam,terrorism, many social networking sites, inciting unrest and things like that. Their governments are mostly dictatorial or have a monarchy in place. In India many educational institutions and companies ban certain social networking sites and other content to prevent the people from “wasting” their time and concentrate more on the work at hand.

Censoring the content to an extent is possible. Obviously there has to be a proper body which decides the “extent”. I am stressing on the phrase “to an extent” because even with all these blocks at the moment, people do find ways to access the so – called unobjectionable content with ease. The control should be put in a proper manner For eg: During the time of the Tibetan movement as well as the violence after the Iranian elections, since the government blocked all the communication with the outside world, people started using Twitter to inform the world about the real truth unfolding there. But, in these countries the blocking software’s are probably the strongest in the world. In India, organizations and institutions have banned social networking sites like Orkut, Facebook and many other porn and video sites. But somehow or the other people are able to find out proxy sites and access the banned sites with total ease. – an Indian soft porn site was the first one to be banned from India officially by the government. But what happened? The person who runs that site, started it again as with the server running from outside the country!.

The world of internet is run “by the people, for the people and off the people”. Therefore even if there is something which the people want to access and aren’t able to, they make sure that they get it by hook or by crook

The net is a world in itself. No one answers that they are NOT adults when they go to a porn site and are asked to confirm their age. The controls to be put in place for the different sites have to be chosen based on a set of parameters like the kind of content, the effect on the people, the ability to influence people etc. Rather than just banning everything like a dictator, a more conventional and orthodox approach would help.

The biggest problem in the world of online censoring is about the different rules applied in different countries based on the location of the country, its values, its customs, the kind of people everything. Until this problem is taken care off, online censoring will always be a subject of contention in every debate on the “Power of the Internet”.



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  1. mini

    Yes this censorship thing has become quite a prob nowadays. Though there are cyber centres that block these sites ppl are still finding ways to access it. And its even more easier to access these sites frm home. I basically think the internet servers itself shud find a way to block these sites. I dont think many servers are doing that. As u said rather than banning everything like a dictator a more conventional approach will help, but i have no idea how long it ll take for this problem to be solved.

  2. What I feel is that censorship can be considered right only when done “to an extent” (as rightly outlined in your post) for certain subjects which by and large may not be in interests of the country or people living therein. Of course, excessive censorship qualifies to be called as a dictatorial step and as such needs to be condemned. Countries need to co-operate in this direction and Cyber Laws of the countries should work like long-arm statute (so that even if the server is established outside the country, the law can reach there also).
    PS: In simple terms, long-arm statute means – “KANOON KE HAATH LAMBE HOTE HAIN”.

  3. Anita

    Some kind of censorship to an extent should be there for the net but dont know how to do it.

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