The world wants filter-free Internet, and it wants it NOW!
With controversial, yet legal sites like WikiLeaks and even YouTube being blocked by various governments (specifically in Asia), it’s no wonder that civil liberties groups are protesting this content filtering. Internet Service Providers and even government agencies around the world don’t want certain eyes to see certain things, and they use their position of authority to their full advantage. On the other hand, democratically-minded people stand behind the free flow of information, and seldom accept any type of data monitoring as acceptable – in fact, they’re doing the right thing by supporting filter-free Internet.
As a result, a number of massive protests that demand filter-free Internet have occurred. Why? Because by forcing people to be exposed to a certain bias by pulling the Internet strings, the “puppeteer” can steer a whole continent’s opinion any way he wants. This article will look at top 3 reasons why the world demands filter-free access to the web, and why this same world will never see it.
1) Ability To Protest
Let’s face it: political relations don’t always go well in China, Japan, Korea, and other Asian countries. When something major happens that the public doesn’t like, the government tries to hide it. They also try to hide the fact that they hid it in the first place! Those who are smart enough to figure out what’s going on want to keep digging for the truth, and once they find out that it’s not so pleasant (see the 2009 Ürümqi riots? or the Green Dam Youth Escort) they want to protest.
Well, the problem is, they will never be able to protest what they don’t know is happening. And people who are liberal enough to consider Internet to be a free-for-all type of thing (you know… kind of how it was intended to be) deserve it. However, their government doesn’t think so.
2) E-Commerce & General Business Benefits
When the flow of information isn’t routed a certain way just because it suits a dictator’s wishes, innovation can happen. By allowing e-commerce sites to sell goods and services freely, everyone benefits (if you have a laissez-faire mindset, that is). Asian vendors aren’t idiots: they know how to analyze demographics, too, so they also know of the population boom in their region. Everyone who’s ever dealt with business management knows that more people = more potential leads, so why would businesses favor content filtering? They don’t. Even American giants like Google and GoDaddy.com have publically declared their stance for freedom of information. Perhaps there’s financial gains to be made by doing this… or perhaps not: consider Microsoft and Yahoo who have caved in to the demands of the Chinese. Only time will tell who’s playing their cards right in terms of getting Asian business.
Unfortunately, these countries that don’t think that general business welfar is good for their country. This is one way Communism remains strong – as a country, the government must oppose what doesn’t fit the regime. Sharing ideas can be dangerous when you’re trying to brainwash people (for more info, look up “North Korea” on Wikipedia), where too many innovative ideas can break the illusion of being a superior nation. Certain governments want their people to keep believing that – because, in a sense, these leaders are brainwashed enough to believe this themselves. After all, Asians are scared by democracy just like the Soviets used to be; in their eyes, free elections are evil, and following this same train of thought, so is the free flow of data.
3) Fair Playing Field For Media Outlets
One of the big controversies is media content filtering. People who support filter-free Internet want foreign countries to allow unrestricted access to any and all news, versus filtering content coming from entire countries or particular news networks. Here, the idea for support of a filter-free online world is that “just because you disagree doesn’t mean it’s wrong.” Of course, if you’re Hu Jintao or Kim Jong-Il, it IS wrong: if you disagree, then what you say is what goes. That’s just how it works when you live in a dictatorship.
One point to consider is that there’s not necessarily a lack of recourse from these Internet-filtering policies; change CAN be done. However, it’s very unlikely. A protest or two won’t do much productive work in the long run – they’ll just cause more controversy. You need more than that to bring about change. Those who assert their power can only go one of two ways: if you’re a leader who doesn’t want to be a push-over, then once you introduce Internet filters in your legislation (however wrong that may be), there is no recourse. It becomes a political game, and it’s not one where regular every-day citizens like you and me have an advantage.
Another reason that some parts of the world will continue filtering parts of the Web is because it’s not a controversial enough issue. Think: would the United States go to war with China because the Chinese refuse to let their people see the Internet in its entirety? Probably not. And that’s why the world demands a filter-free Internet… but they will never see it.
The world cares, but it doesn’t care enough. Without significant action, nothing that’s of much importance will occur in terms of reversing these Internet filter policies. How much you care is balanced out by how much it doesn’t matter… and that’s what’s so scary about this whole controversy.