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This very minute, various countries are discussing the new UN/ITU proposal that grants a government the right to regulate and censor the internet. Only governments have a voice at the ITU. This includes governments that do not support a free and open Internet; meaning engineers, companies, and people that build and use the web have absolutely no say. The internet should not be censored by government because it impairs the freedom of speech and is highly opposed by it’s users.
It is stated in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Article 19, that: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” (U.N.) and by censoring the internet, they are in direct violation against this resolution. To make matters worse, the two countries leading the discussion are Russia and China; two countries whom oppress their innocent population with regulations on speech and opinion. While one could argue back that regulations and censoring the internet could help prevent “cyber crime” of which the FBI regards these computer intrusions and network attacks to be “The greatest cyber threat to our national security.” (McFeely). Nevertheless, hacking groups, such as Anonymous, have shown they are far more than capable of bypassing any restrictions and firewalls by hacking several governments sites. So by putting regulations on the internet, it’s mostly affecting people who don’t use the internet to do illegal activities.
More than 78% of the population in the United States use the internet, that’s over 275,000,000 just in our country. In early November of this year, the U.S. government tried to pass the bills “S.O.P.A.” (Stop Online Piracy Act) and “P.I.P.A.” (Protect Intellectual Property Act). “Both of these bills were proposed in order to force the government to create and enforce more laws to try and stop foreign based websites from selling pirated music and movies online.”(McFeely) This act gave the government the authority to block websites and/or fine them for using any copyright material, let them disable websites from the DNS level, etc.; in short, was a way of censoring and regulating the internet. The act was highly opposed due to it’s huge potential for abuse, which is why people now are still opposing it. In my recent studies, I have found that 9 out of 10 people between the ages 13-18, are against internet censorship.
“It’s stupid, it’s as though they want to have a tighter grasp around the people’s “freedoms”; I was also against the S.O.P.A. for some similar reasons: I think they would abuse the power and they’re taking away our freedoms.” says Chris Killbane, senior at Wando, others disagree “There are things on the internet that are inhumane, wrong, immoral, and illegal; we need there to be restrictions to stop people from seeing it. Censoring would also help prevent pedophiles and kidnappers from getting personal information.” states Ryan Anderson, sophomore at Wando. Personal information is uploaded by the user, so it’s preventable just by not uploading it. While the internet does contain malicious material and content, acts such as S.O.P.A. and the new upcoming discussions in the U.N. are just giving power to the government to be able to control the internet and make it as they see fit, within their border.
The internet should not be censored by government because it impairs the freedom of speech and is highly opposed by it’s users. People have the right to express opinions no matter the media type or frontier. Internet users agree that censorship and regulations would impair the their freedom of speech and expression, and the government shouldn’t have that much control over our daily lives. By granting governments the right to be able to enact regulations and be able to censor anything on the internet only gives them a power that, in the wrong hands, could be abused.
UN. “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UDHR, Declaration of Human Rights, Human Rights Declaration, Human Rights Charter, The Un and Human Rights.” UN News Center. UN, n.d. Web. 3 Dec. 2012.
McFeely, Richard. “Cyber Division Focusing on Hackers and Intrusions.” FBI. F.B.I., 26 Oct. 2012. Web. 5 Dec. 2012.
Farber. “History of the Digital Age.” History of the Digital Age. Typebased, 3 Mar. 2012. Web. 12 Dec. 2012.
Killbane, Chris. Personal Interview Dec. 12th, 2012
Anderson, Ryan. Personal Interview Dec. 12th, 2012
Logan, Avery. Personal Interview Dec. 12th, 2012
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