Internet censorship is the process of regulating what is published, viewed or even accessed on the internet. This process is carried out by the regulators but organizations and individuals can carry out self-censorship due to religious, moral, societal norms, business reasons or even due pressure. However, the level at which internet censorship occurs varies from one country to the others. For instance, in the United States, the government have censored several internet sites and the number is still rising. However, in 2014, the United States was included in the Report Without Borders (RWB) which is a list of the internet enemies. RWB indicated in that, the United States has lost confidence with the internet and the level of its security (In Haerens, In Zott, 2014). However, various countries moderate the internet censorship while others limit access to even important information such as news. Internet censorship happens because of events like protests, riots, and elections, for example, the Arab Spring resulted in an increased internet censorship (Haerens, & Zott, 2014). An example of the systems used to block internet is the ‘’Great Firewall of China” which is utilized to monitor and regulate internet users in China (Jiang, 2013). Today, there are more than 400 million Virtual Private Network users and by this 83% of population recommends that internet should be made a basic need while 71% think that internet censorship should be effective (Haerens, & Zott, 2014).
Types of Internet Censorship
Different countries utilize different method of internet censorship regarding the circumstances with their population. Most countries have the ability to prevent and block internet users from retrieving important documents and files and by this the governments’ funds cyber-attacks from regime critics. The different forms of internet censorship used include, blocking and filtering, intermediary liability and throttling down services (Haerens et al., 2014).
Blocking and Filtering
Blocking and filtering are tools that are used to regulate internet users from accessing certain websites. Filtering tool is utilized to limit access to various websites and materials while blocking tool denies access from the offending sites. There are different types of blocking and filtering tools that include site blocking, key blocking, user blocking as well as protocol blocking (Jiang, 2013). The Chinese government has been continuously filtering and block educational, human rights, news and political websites even without giving them a public notice or a chance for appeal (Jiang, 2013). This Chinese population has been manipulated from being denied access to sites like Google cache, the BBC (China) and other human rights sites like Dui Hua Foundation and Labor Bulletin. Filtering and blocking have also been effective in schools to block students from accessing sites that have harmful information (Jiang, 2013).
Communication platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter are accountable for their customer’s activities and that has been affecting modernization as well as free speech. However, the governments have been driving intermediaries to block users who post undesirable content so as to succumb dissent, privacy violation as well as hate speech (Jere et al., 2011). The threat of accountability can, therefore, transform the websites and ISPs into enforcement agents, forcing them to block user-generated data, regardless of being legal which can make the internet innovative, free and more collaborative. Furthermore, the Internet Association (IA) acknowledges the national policy of the Communication Decency Act stated in Section 230 and Section 512 of Copyright Act, which has been opposing against Intermediary liability (Jere et al., 2011).
Throttling Down Service
Throttling is the process of intentionally speeding or slowing the internet services. This process is regulated by the Internet Service Provider (ISP) to regulate traffic and also reduce bandwidth congestion. Throttling has been used to reduce the user’s download and upload rates, for instance, in video streaming as well as Bit Torrent protocols (Haerens et al., 2014). This program has been effective in controlling congestion on the internet which results in hacking and other cyber-crimes. Basically, throttling is based on sites like Netflix streaming and torrent.
Advantages of Internet Censorship
Today, the internet has become more popular and nearly everyone access internet sites either through the phones, computers, and tablets. The Internet is a significant communication tool that brings people from different regions together. Nevertheless, the internet has various weaknesses which result in cyber-crimes, fraud and even violation of human rights. However, due to this crisis, governments have been working on the internet censorship to block the internet offenders. Internet censorship is therefore beneficial by bringing protection measures.
As the internet is open and anyone can access any site, there are undue materials posted online such as inciting contents and pornography which brings negative influence to the society as well as illegal activities. There are laws that support internet censorship of people practicing illegal information as well as illegal activities carried out through the internet. The censorship cleanses the illegal information and thus protect the society from such contents (Haerens, & Zott, 2014).
The internet censorship helps in filtering inappropriate data to protect young people and students from accessing them. The undue internet contents weaken young people’s ethical consciousness and severe effects on the adolescents. However, internet censorship monitors the web and blocks unnecessary contents (Haerens, & Zott, 2014). Also, by using various tools, parents can block offensive websites from their children and protect them from negative influence.
Internet censorship also helps in minimizing internet violence and also safeguard people’s personal security. Internet violence and bullying is a common issue today which results in suicide cases. Some of the internet bullies use the website illegally and abuse other innocent people. Moreover, there are internet websites that provide suicide methods and also abet suicide. Nevertheless, through internet censorship, this kind of problems are prevented and reduced internet violence (Haerens, & Zott, 2014).
Disadvantages of Internet Censorship
Internet censorship has continued to be supported by governments from different countries. China is one of the countries well known for utilizing internet censorship. However, this process has some disadvantages like business issues and also the violation of people’s rights.
Many of the business worldwide rely on the internet to market their products, therefore, internet censorship has negatively affected them. Due to filtering and blocking of various websites, marketers cannot get access to their customers especially the international marketers. Also, businesses are denied access to compete on the global scale which can result in economic decline (Haerens et al., 2014).
Violation of People’s Rights
In the United States, the internet is protected by the law even if the legal information is blocked (Jere et al., 2011). Moreover, in China, the government blocks various websites without the people’s knowledge (Jiang, 2013). This action seems to violate the people’s right to internet access. It is rational whenever illegal information is blocked not the other way round. Also, many people use the web to express their creativity, therefore, when the internet is blocked or even slowed down, the censorship takes away their freedom of expression.
Internet censorship is the process of regulating what is published, viewed or even accessed on the internet. This process is carried out by the regulators but organizations and individuals can carry out self-censorship due to religious, moral, societal norms, business reasons or even due pressure. Internet censorship has been supported by many governments because they believe it reduces and prevents crime rates and also protect people’s personal security.
- Haerens, M., Zott, L. M., & Thomson Gale (Firm). (2014). Internet censorship. Detroit, MI: Greenhaven Press, A part of Gale, Cengage Learning.
- Haerens, M., & Zott, L. M. (2014). Internet censorship. Farmington Hills, Mich. Greenhaven Press, 
- Jere, W. A. (2011). Internet censorship in the United States: Internet, United States, First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Communications Decency Act. Place of publication not identified: Equ Press.
- Jiang, Y. (2013). Cyber-Nationalism in China: Challenging Western media portrayals of internet censorship in China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.