With the advent of internet, many people around the world have started to get wired and interconnected. The connections occur in business, education, and all other bits of information sharing and gathering, including politics and the government.
The government used to be mum about the internet. In fact, most have tried to incorporate their countries into the tangle of the world wide web. It was later on that they realized how fragile their regimes have become because of the influence that the internet has given their people. In Turkey, the popular video streaming website YouTube was banned after airing clips that insulted the nation’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. North Koreans virtually cannot access the internet, save for some privileged government officials. In Turkmenistan, access is denied to the majority, while in Burma a screen capture is taken every five minutes for the government can monitor what users are viewing. (How governments censor the web, 2007)
It is in China that the web censorship master plan was so extreme, hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested. The sum was dedicated for building the Great Firewall of China, which shall allow controlled internet access to everyone while the government still plays in control—internet access providers will have to have a license and internet police censors will be deployed. Despite this, there are around 20 million bloggers in China and while most are taking things free and easy, some who made the mistake of blogging about the government in an unacceptable manner have been given jail sentences. The same thing occurred in Egypt, when Abdel Kareem Nabil Soliman was sentenced four years in prison for blogging insults about Islam and allegedly criticizing the president Hosni Mubarak. (How governments censor the web, 2007)
These worldwide efforts of different governments around the world to censor the internet are increasing in an alarming rate, and the degree of efforts is surprisingly becoming more advanced everyday. Where people used to have as an instrument of freedom and self expression has now become a way for some to get punished and penalized. This shows how big and influential the internet has become, and how powerful it has grown over many aspects of living including politics.
The governments’ reaction and action towards web censorship is understandable—they are designed to protect their government, themselves, and in most case their people as well. However, the web is created so that people can interact with each other and share information without regard if the information they are sharing is for or against their governments. While it is true that it is the governments’ role to sift the information that reaches their public to protect the interest of the majority, it is not right for any national administration to overdo web censorship to the point that the public is denied access to this vital piece of technology which is advancing many other people’s lives. Neither is it right for the government to pry on web users.
There are many other issues that every nation needs to address, problems that are more important. It is better for administrators to invest the money and effort they are willing to give in addressing these problems, rather than putting these resources in employing web censorship guards and equipment. There are laws that protect every country against revolts, sedition, and other acts that compromise the safety of their nations, their government, officials, and their people. They should be enough to penalize people who may go overboard in expressing themselves in the internet, especially against their government. National leaders should focus more on globalization and development, rather than prying on what their publics are surfing about, an act acceptable only for parents and their kids. If the government censors web use, they are treating their publics as kids. And unless they stop doing this, the public will act like kids. If they are serious about protecting their people, maybe they should start with privacy.