Essay: Free Speech on Internet

We can consider the communication through internet another form of communication of the modern age. On the opposite of traditional print media like newspapers and magazines, the speech through cyberspace is based on very different principles. Nowadays, the accessibility to internet is a common thing for majority of people from developed countries. Any person with the internet connection can become an author of internet discussion, blog, or whole website, and can reach the audience of thousand up to million people. That of course gives to these people a big power of influence. The other very important advantage of cyberspace is the anonymity which breaks down the barriers between the author and the potential audience.  In the traditional print media, the authors are not anonymous and they are responsible for what they write. The anonymity of authors in cyberspace also works as a shield which makes them more courageous in the content of the message. The cyberspace simply became a new form of highly accessible authorship which makes people to ask if the content of the internet should not be regulated. In addition, this question provokes many serious discussions about freedom of speech and expression.

Some countries have already instituted some kind of internet censorship. Internet censorship means the controlling of publishing and accessing the information on the internet (Coleman, 2010). There are many levels of internet censorship and it differs in each country in the world. The most heavily censored countries are the North Korea, China, Turkmenistan, or Cuba. In the North Korea, the media are one of the most controlled in the world. Even if the constitution provides for freedom of speech, the government does not allow exercising this right in practice. The general population has any internet access and also the North Korea itself has a minimal presence on the internet. No of its newspapers have their official websites, and only a few government elite are connected to the internet (Coleman, 2010).

The freedom of speech is also violated in many other countries like Vietnam or Uzbekistan, where the government uses the internet to strengthen its position and power. The Vietnamese government prevents access to websites which are critical of the government, political parties, and also prevents access to websites of international human right’s organization which criticize the acting of Vietnamese government (OpenNetInitiative).

It is also necessary to mention the countries with low level of censorship, and where the particular level of censorship protects the rights of children. As an example, I will use my home country- the Czech Republic. This year, the Czech mobile operator T-Mobile has officially announced that they started to block the web pages promoting the children pornography, prostitution, children trafficking, and pedophilia. The list of “censored” web pages was made accordingly to Internet Watch Foundation list which identifies the web pages containing photographs or videos of children (Coleman, 2010).

To conclude, internet as a new form of communication has its positive and also negative sides. I believe that majority of people who have an internet access could not imagine their lives without internet. Internet serves us much useful information we need in everyday life. On the other hand, internet content also often threatens the human rights by publishing the children pornography, or racist articles and whole web pages. Some people think that internet content should not be regulated because we should follow the human rights like freedom of speech and expression. I personally believe that we HAVE to protect the children, we HAVE to fight against racism, and we HAVE to deal with new movements such as neo-Nazism. However, I do not believe that the Internet content regulation is the right way to do so.

References:

Coleman, B. (2010). Internet Censorship Today: Censoring the Internet and Blocking Websites for Better or for Worse. Censorship. Retrieved May 15, 2010, from http://censorship.suite101.com/article.cfm/internet_censorship_today

Graph, T. N. (n.d.). The Nut Graph |  Internet censorship. The Nut Graph |  Making Sense of Politics & Pop Culture. Retrieved May 16, 2010, from http://www.thenutgraph.com/six-words-on-internet-censorship

ONI Home Page | OpenNet Initiative. (n.d.). ONI Home Page | OpenNet Initiative. Retrieved May 16, 2010, from http://opennet.net/

Oppose internet censorship. (n.d.). Rainbow Reporter. Retrieved May 15, 2010, from http://www.rainbowreporter.com/oppose-internet-censorship/

Advertisements
    • Baia
    • May 21st, 2010

    I don’t like the fact that some totalitarian countries are blocking and censoring some web sites, especially those with the ideas and thoughts against that particular regime. I think that in 21st century everyone has a right for free speech. Two years ago, after Georgia-Russia war, Georgian government blocked all the TV channels and Web sites which were in Russian or were broadcasting from Russia. I believe that this was because of believing only in Georgian Government and “protecting” us from Russian sources.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: