Internet censorship could also result in job losses since a court order may compel online search engines in America to block results or domain names. This could contribute to the instant death of some companies, particularly those with limited resources to fight potential legal cases.
In addition, concerns have also been raised regarding the possibility of Internet censorship to weaken the protection provided by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that supported the growth of major technological companies.
Fundamental Changes to the Current Internet:
The opponents of Internet censorship have stated that such measures could contribute to fundamental changes on the current architecture of the Internet. While various legislations have been proposed to help in the fight against online piracy, which is a major problem, such regulations could grant unnecessary and random censorship powers to content owners. These could result in huge fundamental changes to the Internet's architecture as its known today. Furthermore, efforts towards Internet censorship in America are opposed because some of them have serious ramifications on the First Amendment.
Tackling Access to Inappropriate Materials:
Internet censorship is hugely supported as an attempt to tackle the access to inappropriate materials especially with the rising demand of cyber-porn, which is a major controversial topic in cyberspace. Through censorship, the Internet or cyberspace will no longer be utilized as a medium to corrupt the society by immoral, unethical, and extremist individuals. As the increased and easy access to inappropriate ideas and images has become a topic of key concerns, internet censorship is regarded as the suitable means for tackling the problem.
Advantages of Internet Censorship:
Several progressive groups have stated that Internet censorship is justifiable to a certain extent though the government should ensure that it doesn't interfere with the freedom of press or contribute to repression of its users. Some of the major advantages that have been analyzed regarding such a move include & #8230;
Regulations of Serious Societal Implications:
Proponents of this concept have often stated that censoring this medium of mass media is necessary in order to regulate serious societal implications emanating from its use. They argue that without such boundaries, it will be easier for people to send racial comments or obscene materials across the nation and the globe. Therefore, censoring the Internet will help in ensuring that such activities can be traced and dealt with to avoid serious implications on the society (Naik par, 4).
Actually, the main issue underlying Internet censorship is the prevalence of international problems such as racial hatred and the protection of children from trafficking and pornography. Therefore, there is a great need to adopt a global solution to the problems through co-operation and treaties. Internet censorship is one of the major ways with which such problems can be addressed since it will help in tracing where such problems originate from either in speech or words.
Reduced Criminal Activities:
With the emergence of cyber-terrorism and criminal activities on the Internet, it's necessary to implement a mechanism that could help in the identification and mitigation of such activities to prevent harm to the society. Internet censorship provides a platform with which Internet crimes can be reduced through tracing individuals engaged in such activities. Without tracing or tracking of these people, it will be easy for them to resort to various criminal activities that cause harm to many people.
Fair Treatment with other Mediums of Mass Media:
Generally, censorship is usually designed based on the power of the medium to be censored. For instance, films, video, and television are subjected to higher censorship than newspapers and books because the movement of pictures and sound is more powerful and graphical than that of text, illustrations, and photographs. Videos are normally subjected to higher levels of censorship because of its viewers are captive audiences and can view the content again and distribute it more widely. Internet censorship provides a basis for fair treatment in regulation of the mass media since it has become a huge store of video and sound. As a result of its huge storage of sound and video content, the Internet should be subjected to same level of regulations and power (Butt par, 3).
Elimination of Copyright Violation:
As one of the fundamental issues regarding Internet censorship, regulation of the use and access of the Internet has the advantage of eliminating the violation of copyright and sale of pirated contents like movies. Many companies across the globe have continued to lose huge amounts of money because of copyright infringement and piracy on the Internet. Through Internet censorship, these companies will no longer lose huge amounts as it will tackle copyright infringement and sale of pirated items.
Disadvantages of Internet Censorship:
Several analyses on the concept of Internet censorship have usually focused on both the positive and negative aspects of such a regulation. Some of the main disadvantages of Internet censorship include & #8230;
There is a general prevailing notion that Internet censorship is more or less impossible, which is one of its major disadvantages. This is largely because governments can only regulate what is produced within the specific country as it's impossible to regulate materials from other parts of the world. Concerns are raised as to why America is eliminating all local reference to hardcore pornography while it's possible to access similar materials from other countries like Sweden and the United Kingdom. The other measure that makes it impossible for Internet censorship is the possibility for citizens to produce various materials and store them in foreign domains (Samantha par, 7).
Violation of Internet Privacy and Freedom of Speech:
The second major disadvantage or issue that has been raised in opposition to Internet censorship is the fact that it's an obvious infringement of the freedom of expression and Internet privacy. it's stated that Internet censorship could provide the platform with which authoritative administration could curb the effectiveness of this medium of mass media. Through censorship, individuals will find it difficult to freely express their ideas to other people on the Internet.
Likely Increase in Taxation:
Internet censorship is likely to result in increase in taxation that could be a huge burden to many taxpayers. This is likely to occur as the government will increase its spending to deal with new developments of Internet technology that keep changing from time to time. As a result of such efforts, taxpayers will be required to pay more funds to guarantee its effectiveness.
The distinction between Internet censorship and that of the print and broadcast media is becoming more irrelevant. The print media is currently moderately unregulated because it's considered as the basic means of transmitting information to the society. Moreover, it's possible that the Internet will be totally relied upon for entertainment and news in the next ten years. Therefore, regulating or censoring the Internet will hugely affect its ability for transmitting news, information, and entertainment.
Should the American Government Engage in Internet Censorship?
The decision on whether the United States government should be engaged in Internet censorship requires the consideration of the various issues, debates, advantages, and disadvantages of such regulations. As stated by Naik (par, 6), the analysis of the merits and demerits of regulation of the Internet shows that censorship can be beneficial if used appropriately and damaging when misused. This is largely because its advantages reveal that such regulations are urgently needed whereas its disadvantages show that it doesn't have a place in democracy. Hodder and Stoughton (par, 34) in their assessment of whether the Internet should be censored stated that there is a genuine need for regulation, particularly in relation to illegal and inappropriate content. In contrast, they also stated that such a move requires adequate measures regarding the concerns on the freedom of expression.
While internet censorship is not new in the United States, the concept generated huge debates and controversies due to the development of the Stop Online Piracy Act in the past few months. As revealed in the review, there are various issues and debates that have surrounded the controversies associated with such regulation. One the question on whether the American government should censor the Internet, it's important to critically evaluate its benefits and tackle the emerging disadvantages of the regulation.
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Hodder, and Stoughton. "The Great Debate: Should We Censor the Internet?" The Great Debate CJM Hewett. Web. 13 Feb. 2012. .
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Naik, Abhijit. "Internet Censorship Pros and Cons." Buzzle.com: Intelligent Life…