Censorship and what it is all about.

Definition and role of censorship
from vicky

Internet censorship is control or suppression of the publishing or accessing of information on the Internet. The motivations for censorship range from well-intentioned desires to protect children from unsuitable content to authoritarian attempts to control a nation's access to information. No matter what the censors' reasons are, the end result is the same: They block access to the Web pages they identify as undesirable. Internet censorship isn't just a parental or governmental tool. There are several software products on the consumer market that can limit or block access to specific Web sites.

Censorship in the past

One of the first nicknames for the Internet was the “information superhighway” because it allowed anyone with access to obtain limitless amount of information and data. For many users, the information superhighway is a limitless resource for data but for others, there were roadblocks – Internet censorship. The early use for censorship on the Internet ranged from well-intentioned desires to protect minors from unsuitable contents to authoritarian attempts from the government to control a nation’s access to information.

Censorship in the present

Due to rapid increasing in internet censorship, the internet is no longer served as a platform of individual's free speech and democracy. New software has been created to filter through all the websites with objectionable words. Since the early 90s, numerous governments around the world have been implementing censorship on the Internet targeting the content that is considered illegal and also considered harmful or unsuitable for minors. The freedom of speech that is supposed to be ultimate on the Internet now is subjected to government regulations. In views of different cultures, values and backgrounds, all countries for the illegal and harmful content criterion are different. In this context, each country's Internet censorship has also shown a different picture. For example, China is attempting to restrict political expression on the internet, in the name of endangering national security and social stability. In this case, the Chinese government can in addition to its own efforts also count on the self-censorship of companies such as Google, Yahoo or Microsoft. A recent incident around hacked Google email accounts has led the company to threaten to discontinue its self-censorship agreement with the Chinese government. However, only moderate penetration in the Chinese market may also have something to do with that consideration.

Positive and negative effects of censorship
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There are always multiple perspectives on a single topic. Although censorship seems to usually have negative connotations, the reality is that there are both positive and negative effects of censorship. For instance, one could argue that a positive effect of proper censorship could be reduced rates of crime, violence, racial or sexual discrimination, and hate propaganda. Nowadays, violence and adult themes are often portrayed in movies or on television. In addition to this, the widespread use of the internet allows easy access to such media. Young children may model such themes, which has devastating implications for society. One common use of censorship is the function on some internet browsers that allow parents to moderate what their children may view on the internet. On the other hand, censorship may also be abused. Government censorship of the media in various countries is often taken as an example of the negative effects of censorship. Furthermore, this restriction on the freedom of speech may be for political reasons. Like this, important information can be withheld from the general population.


Countries with strong censorship policies
According to the publications of Reporters without Borders, the following countries have the strongest internet censorship policies:
North Korea
Saudi Arabia

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