Government Intervention and Internet Regulation

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Government Intervention and Internet Regulation
Internet is a global network that connects millions of computers together and allows people to communicate and share information with each other in an effective and easy way. It has become the most widely used means of communications of recent times. “The number of U.S. homes with one or more personal computers increased by 16% (in 1995) to about 38 million households, up from 33 million in 1994 and 25 million in 1993” (Fox 9). “Along with that staggering stat, the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science has reported that 95% of the public has access to the Internet” (“Free Essay”). Internet is filled with a lot of information on almost every topic in the world and anyone can access that information anytime he or she wants and most often that information is available for free. The very fact that everything is so easily available over the internet has become a cause of great concern because people can access information that they are not supposed to view. This has given the rise to a great debate over the use internet regulation versus the concept of net neutrality. “Internet regulation is basically restricting or controlling access to certain aspects or information” (“Internet Regulation”). The proponents of regulation argue that some form of government intervention is necessary to keep a check on the information people access over the internet because that information might be a source of harm for the society in general. Whereas on the other hand, the proponents of concept of net neutrality state that if a person pays for his internet access, then there should be no restrictions on the content that he can view. Because internet is filled with all sorts of information and anyone can access unsuitable information at anytime, some sort of government intervention is necessary in the form of internet regulation to uphold the morals of the society.

There are several ways through which internet can be regulated. Government can make use of the “state control approach” to “intervene directly and place technical controls on the content that can be accessed by their citizens” (Darlington). “A classic case is Saudi Arabia where all of the country's Internet service providers have to go through a central node where the Saudi authorities block access to sites hosting pornography, those believed to cause religious offence, and web sites containing information on bomb-making” (Darlington). Another form of regulation, “the self regulation approach” is based on “voluntary initiatives by the Internet Service Providers (ISP) industry” (Darlington). As per this approach, the ISPs try to control the type of content available to the customers and they keep a check on information being accessed over the internet. “Classically this is the approach in Britain where there is no written constitution and government has shown no wish to legislate” (Darlington). And perhaps the most commonly used and widely accepted form of regulation is the use of filtering techniques through which access to some parts of the information can be controlled for some particular users. For example, parents can use filters to restrict their children from viewing inappropriate explicit content. One of the arguments for having regulation is that internet can be accessed by anyone. Initially, it was supposed to cater to the needs of the American military establishments. Then its uses spread over to the academic communities and today it can be accessed by any individuals from any country and belonging to any age group. For example, a child can easily view inappropriate content from his bedroom at any time he wants. This should not happen because that material can corrupt the mind of that child and can have some serious negative effects. “As the speed of the Internet increased dramatically with the development of broadband access in the late 1990s and early 2000s, not only has more of this type of information...
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