Why Internet Censorship Fail to Work Essay Example

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8Why Internet Censorship Fail to Work

Why Internet Censorship Fail to Work

Why Internet Censorship Fails to Work

Controversy has often marked attempts by various governments to discuss on the possibilities of censoring some internet contents. Moralists have argued that there is a need for the internet providers to monitor the content they display to the public. Majority of the cases have drifted towards protecting the innocence of children and also restricting sensitive information that might reach the public and provoke negative reactions. Research indicates that many countries are still trapped in dialogues concerning internet content while other countries such as have initiated the censorship programme despite protests from some liberals. The availability of pornographic materials has remained the key factor that incites reactions from moralists who feel that the government should implement legal policies that ensures that those who transmit such content are prosecuted. There are various reasons why internet censorship fails to take effect and include: weak laws, liberal pressures from the international community, the effect that censorship has on other sites, economic forces, the criteria of what needs censorship and conflicting interests in the internet sector among other reasons.

In Australia, for example, there is a regulatory system that has powers to restrict media content transmission. They have a filtering website that checks on the international websites that contains child pornography and sexual violence among other unwanted materials. However, the system has become dormant since there are opposition from some individuals who feel that there is need for absolute liberty to access any information on the internet. In 2008, the government proposed a policy aimed at censoring overseas websites with child-unfriendly content. If the proposed bill will become a law, it will require the internet service providers to inhibit access to such content. Despite the fact that the matter is still pending, there are many opposition from government officials and civic groups that demand that there is need for freedom of internet research to the users. In 2010, some political parties declared that they will vote against the proposed policy. Evidently, it shows that the censorship fails because of political reasons (Bidgoli 2003, pp. 203).

At the same time, the judiciary in some countries has continued to defend the censorship of some internet content. Ironically, the Australian constitution checks on the freedom of speech and press and yet the high court has insisted that access to internet content is part of the individual freedom. The complexity of interpreting the law has often led to problems whether the government agencies has rights to introduce policies that hinder the public from access all the contents they need from the internet. Studies reveal that lawyers have taken advantage at the fluidity of the law to defend the internet users and service providers who allow the transmission of pornography content. They often argue that everyone has the right to chose what to consume. The matter has become complex after the internet providers argued that the access of particular websites was a matter of choice. They explain that they give warnings regarding some websites so that the internet users can decide whether to proceed with browsing or not. On a related perspective, critics have raised questions regarding criteria used by the censorship authorities on the content that needs prohibition. They question why someone should check the contents before concluding that the website is not recommended. In essence, they question the fairness of the censorship personnel claiming that what is desirable or not is subjective (Bidgoli 203).

Critics have argued that censorship of some contents was likely to block other important sites in the websites. They state that there is a possibility of blocking the piracy websites and web pages containing banned literature. For that reason, the users might fail to access films, video games and books. Arguably, it shows that the censorship board has the disadvantage of not acting precisely in their role. The censorship merely provokes reactions from other sectors that do not have the undesired content. For example, the Australian government faced the challenge when it recommended that some filtering was necessary in order to protect consumers from unsuitable content. When the critics identified the censorship programme, academic institutions warned that there was likelihood that the education sector would encounter challenges in accessing some relevant reading materials. For example, the censorship is likely to block the access of popular literature books that have erotic content. Needless to say, the websites are business opportunities for their proponents, and measures to stop the circulation and access of such materials interferes with trade. Actually, those who are against censorship demand that there is need for freedom to trade with different goods and services (Robert 2013).

On the same note, opponents have argued that introduction of web filter will prevent access of some sites that contain sensitive issues such as euthanasia and abortion. The two examples are crucial in the global discussions and attempts to prevent the public from accessing such materials are likely to cause revolt. The issues are central in shaping the moral standards in the society and philosophies emerge that invites reaction from the public. The opponents, therefore, explain that the laws that allow censorship prevent global discussion that the internet aims at encouraging. Besides that, the web filter will interfere with the access of other sites. The approach will slow down the broadband access speeds, which consequently interferes with the internet services (Jenkins 2013).

Some political critics argue that the attempts by some states to introduce censorship are likely to cause sour relationship with other free states. The United States of America, for example, advocates for absolute freedom of internet access. Countries that introduce policies to curb such freedom receive threats related to sanctions. For example, Australia and America have often disagreed over the matter after the former country introduced a proposed policy that recommends filtering of internet websites. America has also warned China, a state that has regulations on internet access, that they should liberate the internet users to access sites of their choice. The international politics have prevented the implementation of regulations that keep checks on internet use. America has continued to use its power against the preservation of morals by arguing that liberalism should become the only criteria used in guiding operations in the world. Hence, all countries must abide by the rules or face sanctions. Due to fear of the devastating effects of sanctions, many countries have abided by the international demands by leaving their censorship policies unimplemented (Macmillan 2013).

The United Kingdom and the US have also lead protests against censorship by proclaiming that the attempts were futile. The foreign secretary in the UK, William Hague once said that censorship was undermining the public from gaining the benefits of cyberspace. His statements depicted the proponents of censorship in a negative perspective. Considering that UK is one of the superpowers, the statement and others of the same kind have influenced the decision of many other states. Hague further equated censorship to violation of human rights and argued that it was an international concern that every citizen in each country should struggle to ensure that the state respect such a right. As a result, many states that had plans to introduce web filtering reconsidered their position since the issue had attained an international sensitivity. The former US vice president Joe Biden supported Hague’s idea and added that the citizen must lookout for the forces, government or not, that aims at providing decrees on what the internet users should consume (Macmillan 2013).

There are some economic forces that have also challenged the introduction of censorship in many states. In Australia, the political opponents opposed the policy claiming that it was likely to affect the state’s budget since censorship required financial support. The opponents explained that the government was overburdening the taxpayers by introducing expensive programmes that they could avoid. The censorship requires employment of skilled personnel to monitor internet websites and prevent access of some sites considered unfit for public consumption. By extension, the state will have to increase taxation in order to meet the funds needed for the exercise. Moreover, opponents claim that the censorship may not succeed since there are some paedophiles that have sophisticated systems that interfere with the techniques of web filtering. In the end, the funds will go to waste without meeting the required objectives (Bidgoli 2003, pp.204).

The censorship programmes have also received opposition from influential person sin the internet and computer sector. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, for example, has stated that no government or individual can control the internet. According to Gates, the public have taken the lead in choosing what to consume from the internet and authorities should not interfere with such freedom. Bill Gates predicted that the policies that China had introduced to regulate internet websites was likely to fail. True to his word, several US companies and Microsoft companies received attacks from the US and UK government for supporting the China programme. Despite the fact that the censorship is still working in China, the process is crippling due to lack of support from other stakeholders. For Gates, internet freedom was one of the forces that promoted development. Consequentially, his arguments have influenced thinking across the world. Many state officials have taken sides with the Microsoft founder and opposed policies aimed at introducing censorship (Macmillan 2013).

Amnesty International has also undermined attempts by many states to introduce censorship. The organisation has continued to advocate for freedom to access internet. During the 2009 Online Free Expression Day , Amnesty International led the launch of «Say No to Internet Censorship» campaign. The campaign promoted the protest against censorship by urging the internet consumers to oppose measures aimed at limiting such freedom. Amnesty International, which has a wide acceptance throughout the world hampered all the steps that some states had established in an attempt to protect their citizens from unwanted internet content. The organization also funded some programmes in many countries that promoted internet freedom. Additionally, Amnesty International circulated materials that incited the world against interference of free internet access. Today, many opponents of censorship have promoted opposition by citing the arguments raised by the organisation. Ironically, the organisation that should have taken the lead in protecting children against sex related contents have entrusted the responsibility to parents and guardians whom they claim have a duty to monitor the activities of the children (Macmillan 2013).

The anti-censorship campaign has intensified after Amnesty International in association with other liberal groups designated March 12 as the day to call for “no censorship.” The event that receives support from the Microsoft and other companies has a wide acceptance. The fact that it is an annual event makes it impossible for the states to introduce policies that censor internet access. During the day, the world discusses on the benefits of having unlimited access to the internet and those who oppose the freedom receive a negative perception. For example, China has appeared in the negative limelight due to its stand on censorship. The UK and US have continued to condemn China during the March 12 while showing the privilege that other countries with freedom enjoy. Research indicates that China receives pressure from the international community and might give p its struggle to uphold to the internet regulations (Robert 2013).

Fundamentally, there are several forces that have hampered attempts to promote censorship of the internet content. Despite evidence that there are some content that need prohibition on certain persons, liberals continue to challenge policies that aims at promoting ethics in the cyber world. It is therefore clear that every state that aims at introducing the censorship policies should prepare to receive opposing reactions from the locals and the international community. The various reasons why internet censorship fails to take effect in many states include: the absence of strong legislative structures that monitor internet access, liberal pressures from the international community, the effect that censorship has on other sites, economic forces, the criteria of what needs censorship and conflicting interests in the internet sector among other reasons.


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Bidgoli, H. 2003 The Internet Encyclopedia, Volume 2. : John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken.

Macmillan, R 2013 “Chinese-Style Internet Censorship Doomed to Failure, Says Bill Gates,” Itbusiness.ca, 9 November 2011, p.5, viewed 26 May 2014, Itbusiness database.

Jenkins, H 2013, “Three Things that Western Media Fail to Tell You about Chinese Internet Censorship?” viewed on 26 May 2013, http://henryjenkins.org/2013/10/three-things-that-western-media-fail-to-tell-you-about-chinese-internet-censorship.html

Robert, R 2013, Will US Fight China’s Internet Censorship? 20 October 2013, Online Video, Viewed 26 May 2014, http://www.youtube.com/watch?V=NWBocaZJUVM.