The United States and other democracies around the world face a paradox: in their efforts to preserve a safe and secure Internet, they often undermine access and freedom of speech by over-regulation. The convenience of claims of terrorism, child pornography and cybersecurity has contributed to a growing expectation that Nations should enforce order in cyberspace.
In early 2011, when antigovernment protesters filled Cairo’s Tahrir Square in peaceful demonstrations, they were suddenly confronted by thousands of Mubarak supporters swinging clubs and whips. The clash was made possible by Facebook and other Sociral Networks that were available in Egypt. This same new form of communication has been used repeatedly to “rally the troops” and gather people together who are tired of rhetoric from tyrants.
The overthrow of despotic rulers has shown in the most dramatic way, the power of the Internet and how it can directly affect the course of history. This has not been lost on governments. The U.S. is spending millions of Dollars to develop anti-censorship apps. build shadow communication systems, and train activists around the world how to beat Big Brother.
However, researchers have found that more than 40 governments are now using a combination of regulatory restrictions, technical controls on access to the Internet. and technologies designed to repress speech and infringe on individual personal privacy of those who use these rapidly developing technologies.
The growing threat of Internet censorship. ranging from China’s sophisticated firewalls to physical attacks on activists who are tracked down through their online postings, is prompting more and more calls for stronger free speech initiatives.
The U.S. is leading on both sides of this coin. On one side, the Defense Department, CIA, and Homeland Security are pouring billions of dollars into cyberwarfare and espionage, and Congress is aiming to increase regulation of online privacy, intellectual property and cybercrime. On the other side of the coin, the U.S. State Department is actively helping dissident groups in Libya and elsewhere evade Government Internet barriers.
What role do YOU think government should play in the regulation of the Internet, if any? where do you draw the line? Let me hear your thoughts on this issue that is effecting and will continue to effect every one of us.
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The Neu Facebook