Although people have freedom of expression, telecom and mass media are state-regulated and also print media are supervised by the state. The idea behind this is that people are protected from abuses such as discriminations done by other citizens. With the emergence of the internet as a new technology the question arises if it needs the same regulations as other mass media. Internet Censorship Like all other media the internet is censored by the state. Governments of non-democratic counties are using censorship, but also democratic states are regulating their media.
The idea behind regulation of the state is to protect the people from who are crossing the lines of humanity and morality and abuses the freedom they have online. It is definitely not the intention to limit the right of freedom of expression. With other media it is much easier to control everything that is being published. While the internet is an international network and the national borders are more pervious online. Everyone will be able to find information on websites hosted by other countries. Although governments can prevent their people from viewing certain sites by filtering what people can and cannot access.
The main issues that are controlled by most media are vulgarity, racism and violence (Pallai, 2010). The good thing about censorship is that it prevents provocative material that is very likely to offense others. Everyone has freedom of expression but at the same time no one has the right to discriminate or disrespect someone. Also controls the state online advertising. To discourage people from for example smoking or drinking, there is no advertisement about those stimulants. Also to protect people’s privacy, to prevent plagiarism and to conserve morals are reasons for censorship by the state (Pallai, 2010).
Some are against censorship by the state because in their opinion it affects the freedom of expression. Withholding information can lead to a lack of knowledge and a completely wrong image among the people. Sometimes it can be good to learn from extreme topics such as the dangers of sexual diseases or mindless violence by showing the public instead of trying to hide it. Besides that, when you are trying to hide issues from the people they might become more curious about it. And people should have the right to know and the right to receive reliable and accurate information.
If people are badly informed they might fail to see their actual interest. (Norris, 2004) Censorship is a very complicated topic and it the government might misuse the power they have to withhold information from the people in their own advantage. However used properly, censorship can be a very valuable and useful tool. As long as it is only used to prevent abuse on the internet and to protect people from getting hurt, while maintaining the freedom of expression. Because the internet is growing, it is very likely to result in more and more control and surveillance by the state and corporations (Friedman, 1996).
Simultaneously it leads to new forms and ways of communication, which will grow the treat of surveillance. It will threaten privacy and the rights of individuals, just as the rights of groups to discuss and organize on the internet. Important here is that, although privacy is threatened by many different departments, Friedman (1996) argues that the number one treat is surveillance by the government. We have to pay attention to the fact that the distribution of information technology is very likely to lead to a society that is less en less self-governed.
Limitations on the internet are a fine line between protecting the people from dangers of the new technology and maintaining the right of freedom of expression. But we have to make sure that, by putting restricting on the accessibility of the internet, we don’t prejudice the great positive potential of this new technology. Because maybe some rules devised for other kinds of media, might be unsuitable for the internet (Human rights education associates, 2010). An other disadvantage that influences the freedom of expression is the accessibility of it.
The cost of the internet, once provided a computer, are significantly lower than most other communication media. However anyone who wants to participate needs the hardware that is necessary to get online. That means you have to have the money for purchasing computer equipment. Although the internet is a very fast growing new technology, it is still not available for the most people in the world (Hacker, 1996). The biggest problem that arises is that a great part of the people doesn’t have the funds to get access to the internet, which means they are not able to participate.
‘New technologies favor those who with capital, more than those without capital’ (Hacker, 1996, pp. 226). Friedland (1996) stated in his article that democracy is changed by the internet but it is seldom thoroughly specified. With the emergence of this new technology, a new form of democracy arises, which leads to new citizen practices. The increase of a confidential information infrastructure will cause a growing inequality between the people who have access to all the information and the ones who have not. Therefore it will threaten democratic participation.
The only way to secure that everyone has the same benefits and access to the information is making sure the sector is controlled by public provision and contribution. Conclusion Freedom of expression is a primary human right and everyone deserves that right. With the emergence of the internet people have been introduced to a whole new form of human interaction. With the access to the World Wide Web people are able to cross borders and to express their selves freely, without limits. Because the internet is not administered by one single entity, it is a very open medium, which clarifies itself by the variety of communications forms.
With hardly any boundaries it is difficult to protect the human rights. The great power of the internet is at the same time the greatest weakness. Like other media, the internet is censored by the state. Important is to make sure that we don’t prejudice the great positive potential of this new technology by putting restriction on the internet. The internet will have a positive impact on freedom of expression and democracy as long as it represents the voice of the public, without limit (Norris, 2004). Unfortunately the control of the state often limits the freedom of expression, ignoring the interests and the needs of the public.
Even though it is not the most sufficient choice, censorship by the government is necessary. Norris (2004) is making clear that states with free, widespread and independent media are stronger and more stable than others. It illustrates that free and uncensored media can play an essential role in maintaining democracy and freedom of expression. In addition to that there is a large group in the population that doesn’t have access to the internet. There will be a growing inequality between the people who have access and the ones who have not and that will threaten democratic participation.