“Once a novelty, the Internet is now transforming how people live, think, talk and love; it is changing how we go to school, make money, see the doctor, and elect presidents” (quoted in Cutugno 1).

The Internet at its inception was just a few networks connected to have a safe and reliable mode of communication, it then progressed exponentially and eventually, it came to everyone’s access.

The number of people using the internet is increasing day by day; a new report from a United Nations agency says that 47 percent of the world’s people now use the Internet — an increase from just one year ago, when the same agency estimated that just over 43 percent of the global population were Internet users.

Due to this exponential increase in the popularity of the internet different governments try to regulate the internet by censoring the content on the internet. Internet censorship is restricting the access to the content on the internet, these restrictions are imposed by government authorities.

The idea of limiting access to content on the internet which government thinks is inappropriate is problematic because it is against the freedom of speech, it will adversely affect the imagination and learning of the people and then it will adversely affect the resources of the government as it requires great human and material resources.

The government has the authority to ban anything which it deems inappropriate but we are not living under the rule of a dictator instead, we are living in a democracy where every person has the right to speak and write freely with no fear.

But we have seen many incidents when the government banned the content on the internet which it thinks inappropriate for the people, for example, the ban on YouTube for more than a year. “YouTube was blocked in September last year [2012] on directives from the committee after controversial film ‘Innocence of Muslims’ went viral on it” (Shahid).

This ban was because of blasphemous content but the YouTube was banned for the whole country which has a considerable strength of Non-Muslims. This act of government or judiciary was not only against the rights of these Non-Muslims but also Muslims as only because of some inappropriate content the government banned the whole domain of google, restricting people from accessing it.

The word inappropriate is very subjective, a film inappropriate for some people may not be inappropriate for all people. So, the government must consider not only the religious concerns of the people but also others needs as well blocking the whole social media is not the solution it adversely affects the life of people.

The censorship on the internet not only blocks people from using their right to speak freely but also it hampers people from accessing the content they like on the internet. That is censorship has dual effects on our lives, it is restricting our frame of thought and the image of our thought.

For example, North Korea’s government has imposed so many restrictions on the internet that Twenty years after it began changing the lives in other countries, the internet isn’t even a concept for the average North Korean.

They are not aware of the most powerful mode of communication just because of the censorship imposed by the tyrant ruling at the time. Recently some of the internet services have started working there but they are available only to the limited population for example only in elite universities.

In place of Internet, they have the Intranet which covers almost everything within its boundaries, people are unaware of the progress being made in other countries and any other thing.

They have lived so much in the era of limitations that they have become self-censored like Williams wrote “North Koreans learn self-censorship from an early age. It’s a key to their survival, so would ever dare attempt to sneak visits to the websites that might get them in trouble. The stakes of their lives and their families are too high.”

To conclude, restricting the access of the people from the vast world of the internet only because the Internet hosts some material which government thinks is ‘inappropriate’, restricts their thoughts to a single narrative or the narrative of the government, it will not allow people to express their stance freely, it requires resources and lastly no matter how much a government try to ban the inappropriate content on internet there will always be a slight possibility to bypass these restrictions and will exploit that.

At the end, the whole idea of censoring the internet vanishes because it does more harm than good.

 

– Op-ed

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