Cyber censorship has seen a rise all over the world. Totalitarian regimes such as China, democracies such as the US and India have all been guilty

 Governments Imposing Cyber Censorship under Guise of Security, Law & Order

  1. China’s cyber censorship policy is so stringent that about 18,000 websites are blocked in the mainland region. China also has the largest number of cyber dissidents in prison currently and the country has the most sophisticated and advanced internet control apparatus in place. China censors Google, Wikipedia, The Wall Street Journal, Facebook, Linkedin and more. While the ostensible reason is to block porn, violence, gambling and superstitious content, there actually a complex of reasons that disallow political dissent, criticism of the government and so on.
  2. China’s totalitarian regime is far from the only one imposing the government’s might upon personal liberties. Various regimes employ censorship to a lesser or larger extent, in overt or covert forms and under various supposed guises. Some are silly, as in the case of the Shin-Chan being cartoon being labeled pornographic by Indonesian authorities, whereas others are far more pernicious. China has even cracked down on apps such as WeChat and KakaoTalk.
  3. President Vladimir Putin reportedly wants to come up with a radical plan that will permit the authorities to ‘unplug Russia from the global internet’. The idea is to be able to control public opinion in case of anti government protests or serious military confrontation. The ostensible reason cited is to reduce reliance on US technologies and vulnerability to spying.
  4. The Edward Snowden episode where the American computer professional leaked classified information and subsequently had to flee the United States to escape persecution is another case in point. Snowden may be a hero for many in his own country and in places such as Germany because he stands for our individual freedoms, but he remains public enemy No 1 for the authorities.
  5. While various laws to fight cyber crime are already in place in the US such as the Communications Decency Act, the Children’s Online Protection act, Trading with the Enemy act, some of these bills are proposed to become law: Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) in the United States.
  6. Areas in the Middle East are also bogged down by internet censorship. Recently the authorities in Qatar declared support of web-oversight laws that spell serious fines and prison terms for violators. There are apprehensions that these laws will stifle free speech and media openness. While other Asian countries such as Syria, North Korea and Iran are known for censoring online content, the United States has also been criticised recently for expanded Internet surveillance by Reporters Without Borders. (Source – Washington Post)
  7. Then there are reports that Europe’s highest court ordering Google to delete, on request, search results embarrassing to private individuals… this is as worrying, coming from one of the most liberal of societies in the world. (Source – Huffington Post)
  8. Indian authorities have been as guilty of curbing our freedoms anytime they have deemed this fit. Typically this is done under the guise of preventing the spread of romours and hate messages leading to unrest and violence. The most recent case was that of 2G and 3G services being curbed in Vadodra after the city witnessed rioting last week. (Source – Times).
  9. So were better than China but worse off than the US? Is this good or bad? Should there be internet censorship? If so who will decide where to draw the line? After all one man’s erotica is another’s porn….

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