In today’s world, it can generally go without saying that the internet has become an integral part of society. From conversations between people who live oceans apart to the ability to receive updates on the world around you from a device in your pocket, the internet makes life immensely easier.
However, as with all things in life, there will always be laws, regulations, and monitoring. In a time where free speech is a hot-button topic, the idea of internet censorship is equally as tumultuous. There will always be the potential for laws and regulations to change and for internet censorship to become stricter or more lenient. In order to understand what this means for you and how this will affect your life, you need to understand what exactly internet censorship entails.
Once you understand what internet censorship is and how it could potentially affect your daily life, you should then begin to think about the potential benefits and potential detriments that these changes could have on the world. Understanding internet censorship pros and cons is an important step in knowing where you stand on the issue, but it is even more important to build a core knowledge of this topic.
What Is Internet Censorship, and What Does It Involve?
At its core, the idea of internet censorship shares similar ideas as other kinds of censorship. This means that fundamentally, this type of censorship is designed to limit what people can say and what people can see. It censors certain information based on rules and regulations.
However, internet censorship explicitly deals with restricting content that you see online. This ranges from webpages that you might want to look at to videos you may want to watch, and, at its strictest level, includes who you can talk to and what you can talk about online.
When people talk about internet censorship, one of the most central ideas is the idea of how far the internet carries into real life, across borders, rules, and regulations that a country may have in place. After all, no matter how strict one country may be in their censorship, there will be other countries that can post anything, which means that these countries may learn about things that the other country may not want them to know about.
In the end, internet censorship is specifically the control and/or suppression of access to information on the internet. This can include publishing information, sharing it, or even mentioning it.
How Internet Censorship Affects Day-to-Day Life
Internet censorship can affect life far more easily than you might imagine at first. For instance, one way that more lenient policies on censorship affects the public is that untrue and misleading news articles can be published under the idea of free speech and as a result, people can develop a misconstrued view of a particular situation. This misinformation can then lead to dangerous decisions and situations that may not have happened if there was stricter censorship in place for blatantly false or misleading content.
On the other hand, extremely strict censorship can alter the way that someone views the world. In a country that has strict regulations on what is put online, there is the potential for entire controversies and events to be covered up and blotted out of that country’s history. This has the consequence of not letting potential generations of people learn from past mistakes, form their own individual opinions on controversial topics, and so on.
These are how the extremes of internet censorship can affect the daily life of the public, making it all the more important for you to understand that there are both benefits and detriments to too much or too little censorship. The “right” amount of internet censorship has been a topic for debate almost as long as the Internet itself has been around.
The Benefits of Having Internet Censorship
While there are definitely people out there who believe that internet censorship infringes on the idea of free speech, there are also plenty of people who believe that a moderate amount of censorship can actually provide a number of benefits to the general public.
For instance, one of the biggest arguments for internet censorship is the idea that having some degree of censorship on false and misleading information can help people stay away from believing things that could harm them in the long run. This can help people get information from reliable sources, helping them form informed opinions about important issues, thus benefitting the country as a whole.
Another reason why people believe that some degree of internet censorship is needed is because there are some things on the Internet that are downright heinous and criminal. Human trafficking is one example of this, with there being more extreme examples of criminal activity on the internet the deeper you get. With internet censorship in place, it is widely believed that an entire platform for these criminal activities can be removed, thus hindering the amount that these crimes happen and making it harder for them to continue happening.
And finally, another benefit to having internet censorship in place is that the Internet as a whole becomes more secure. After all, with the right policies in place, malicious content, websites, and programs can be filtered and removed. With this, people who may be more vulnerable to falling for this content will not be at risk and people will be able to browse more freely. On top of this, there is the opportunity for more jobs to be created, as it will require brainpower to create algorithms, monitor those algorithms, and update them as the Internet changes on the minute.
The Cons of Having Internet Censorship
As with all things, there will always be cons to having different laws and regulations in place. When it comes to internet censorship, there are many questions, concerns, and valid fears that people have. With too strict of censorship, the public can become uninformed, naïve, and completely controlled based on what the government wants people to believe. This is a future that nobody wants. Here are some of the common problems that people have with the idea of internet censorship.
For one, at its core, internet censorship does limit the amount of information that people can access. This is something that many people are uncomfortable with. After all, nobody will know what information is being withheld and this can have a massive impact on a country. While some of this information may be false or misleading, there will always be people who believe it is wrong for any information to be withheld, no matter if it is considered to be “bad” information.
Similarly, there is significant concern over the idea of who will be watching the people who regulate the internet censorship policies. In a sense, the concern is over who is watching the watchers. With the kind of power that censorship brings, there is immense responsibility. When a person has that much responsibility regarding how much they can influence an entire country, there is always going to be a degree of concern over who is making sure that any decisions made are made for the people, and there is good reason for this as, eventually, there will be a person who won’t have a boss to report to.
And finally, it is expensive for a country to employ internet censorship policies. From putting the rules in place to creating algorithms and monitoring the internet to the actual action of censoring information, it can cost a country a lot of money. In order to get the money to enact and continue such policies, a country will have to begin taking more money from taxpayers, and this is something that nobody particularly wants.
The Bottom Line
In the end, excluding the people on the extreme sides of internet censorship, many people believe that with good and responsible moderation, some degree of censorship can better a country. However, finding those good and responsible people, finding the money, and figuring out what to censor is the problem at hand.
On the one hand, internet censorship can remove misleading information and outright lies. It can hinder criminal activity on the internet and create a safer place for people to browse. On the other hand, it limits the freedom of speech that people have. It removes information, which, in a corrupt society, may be important pieces of history. It can also be incredibly expensive to commit to. It can be expected that internet censorship will be a hot-button issue for a long time to come.