Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Is Internet censorship inevitable?

The growth of the Internet in the last decade was driven by its users and application creators, mostly from the private sector. Along with the benefits came the various threats and abuses such as pornography, terrorism, cybercrime, among others. Most of these crimes are done outside of one's country and most would strategically implement such route to ensure that they won't be captured.

Governments are getting concerned about this and efforts in creating a multi-government and multi-stakeholder body is being pushed to coordinate tracking and capture. It will be interesting to explore the idea Vince Cerf is pushing on international agreements on what is acceptable network behavior or not. I wonder what will be the penalties for those who are non-compliant.

While waiting for these efforts to happen, governments are moving forward. Australia released Internet censorship rules that compels ISPs to provide clean feeds that shall protect children from pornography and violent websites or often referred to as adult content. Of course, wives who don't want their husbands to access Internet pornography should be happy as well.

As children now frequent social networks and use chat tools to connect with their friends, where they also get exposed to adult content indirectly, it will be interesting to see on how can this be properly executed. The last thing you want is for innocent sites to be included in the list.

This is not mandatory though and parents who have control of their household Internet may want to opt out from this feature. Like in our home, computers are located in the living room area where access to undesirable content is less likely to happen. But as Duncan Riley noted, opting out may result or require questions to be answered, that in a sense is also like being monitored.

Whether this will affect Internet speed or increase access cost, is uncertain at this point. Telecommunications Minister Stephen Conroy mentioned that they will work constructively with the sector and engage in trials to get this done properly.

I believe that this move by a perceived progressive and democratic country like Australia will set the stage for more countries to explore the same move, especially if done well.

In the Philippines, there were push for Internet censorship in the past and was even suggested by the biggest Internet cafe chain in the Philippines, Netopia. Even if most Internet cafes in the Philippines have already prohibited access to pornographic materials in their facilities and installed filters to prevent such, some believe that government's participation on the matter can help in stepping up the pressure. Getting the Internet monitored may one way or another help in capturing cyber-criminals especially pedophiles who are good in masking their identities online.

With pervasive Internet use and cybercrime growing online, is Internet censorship inevitable? I guess it will depend on what matters most to us. Is it our privacy? Children's online safety? Freedom of information access? National security?

1 comment:

designers depot said...

It is good if they can implement censorship. but I think we will not see it any time soon. The internet is just too vast for it to be monitored. any one who wants to do illegal things will just find other ways to go around and find a loophole.