Wang Xiao 2121761 B5/42 Steven Mcgill
Government Internet censorship (in Asia): it is an action of protection or a offender of human rights?
This essay focuses on online information censorship, especially in China, with emphasis on rights and freedoms to access information and make a speech online. According to Warf (2011) durning the last period of 20 century, the control of Internet was privatized by a consortium of telecommunications companies. Durning the same period, the development of Internet technology in Europe promoted the simplification of Internet usage, and it has also leaded to the innovation of the World Wide Web. Soon, thereafter the number of private Internet usager increased rapidly, including Netscape, Internet Explorer, and Firefox. The number of websites grew exponentially, from roughly 1 million in 1990 to more than 4 billion in 2011 (Warf, 2011). However, for some critics, the exceedingly increase of web bowsers and the no restrictions of all websites’ access have brought some negative impacts and have been treated as threats to national security in some countries. This essay aims to investigate the impacts of government Internet censorship on citizens’ basic rights, and explore the efficient method that governments can provide people with a better Internet environment. At first part of this essay will present some basic definition of Internet censorship and the purpose of government Internet censorship. And discuss the Internet censorship in China. On the last part of the essay a method of balance the human rights and nation security will be discussed.
Internet censorship can be defined in different ways. Generally, it means blocking or filtering information that is harmful or sensitive or might bring inconvenient to the majority of people, and usually conducted by government, corporations or other organizations. There are different purposes for internet censorship. According to Goldsmith (1998) the motivations for internet censorship have many forms and types, such as political censor of objectors, movements to promote human rights, or negative comments on the government; religious controls, usually used to stop the spread of belief which is against the principles of a particular religion; protections of intellectual property (someone's idea, invention, creation, etc., which can be copied by someone else); sexual content like pornography. The excuse of government internet censorship normally seem to be giving netcitizens a better internet environment ,especially for the youth, by filtering sexual, violence and fake content on the internet. To some extent, government Internet censorship have positive impacts on protecting it’s own citizens, because it reduce the chance to access negative online information, or protect privacy and personal data online. However, as Warf (2011) suggests, recently to grantee national security has also became a shield. A variety of governments choose to prevent access to internet information which is especially about their own countries (e.g., in China, people cannot browse the information about some sensitive history events).
Comparing with other types of mass media, such as newspapers, broadcast, and television, Internet is a cheaper and easier way to participant in social activities. In other word, as 39% of 2013 world population can access internet (Geneva,2013), there are not many obstacles to access Internet, which means that Internet could enlarge the population to involve in political issues. For those reasons, Chinese authority accepted national filtering systems to censor information online within the territory of China.
In China, there are more than 513 million Internet users (Kahn 2002). Chines government clear its Internet policies on China’s 2010 White Book: No organization or individual may produce, duplicate, announce or disseminate information having the following contents: being against the cardinal principles set forth in the...
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