Should The Government Censor the Internet?
The internet has changed human life. It has taken human experiences to a whole new level. Social, financial, business, religious, and academic changes have been witnessed across the world. In the 21st century, the internet is part and parcel of human life, including government operations. In this regard, any reasoning inclined towards government censorship of the internet is misplaced and unfounded.
In the modern world, at least half of the global business transactions involve the internet, in one way or the other. Mobile and online banking have revolutionized how business is transacted. The operations and business of eBay, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, among other giant firms, rely almost exclusively on the internet. As these are influential firms that shape the economy of not only the United States but the entire world, the availability of the internet is at the core of the global economy. The economy is directly related to security thus full censorship of the internet could result in widespread insecurity.
On the negative side, banks and other financial institutions across the world lose billions of dollars annually to internet fraud. While financial fraud may be one reason that the government can point to, in censoring the internet, most fraud cases involve unfaithful bank employees hence prevention of such cases needs to be based on the formation of strong counter-fraud teams, not censorship of the internet.
Some governments often censor the internet in parts of the world. During the Arab Spring, governments in Egypt and other Arab nations resorted to censoring social media and other key internet services to prevent the spread of information that the government claimed: “jeopardized national security.” However, despite such censorship, the Arab spring was successful and a number of leaders were overthrown. This shows that suppression of the internet is not always successful or productive.
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One argument often raised in support of internet censorship is the ease with which the government can stop criminal activities by censoring the internet. However, if the government receives information that terrorists are using the internet to communicate or procure weapons which they intend to use against a population, it is incumbent upon government agencies to investigate and apprehend such criminals before they accomplish their mission. In cases where there are genuine security concerns or where the government wants to limit activities that could jeopardize the society, censoring the internet is necessary.
Online learning has given qualified students a chance to get access to education in any institution of higher learning in the world. As information and education are key aspects in the progress of any society, online education empowers societies and is a fundamental element in global development. The internet also connects competent employees to potential employers.
The social role that the internet plays can only be compared to the fanatical following that soccer has across the world. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter enable millions of friends and families to stay in touch. Halting internet services, even for an hour can cause major inconveniences and can have dire consequences all over the world. Even though such sites are often exploited by criminals for undesirable purposes, the benefits that social media brings to the society by far exceeds any potential security and financial concerns.
The internet is a key component of the modern world. The business, political, and social operations of the society are to a large extent influenced by continuously availing internet connection. Censorship may have its advantages but the extent to which it adversely affects modern life makes government censorship detrimental. While censorship might be considered in cases where extreme security and financial issues abound, it is unjustifiable to gratuitously censor the internet.