After the development of the internet, it became quite easy for people to access information through technology. As more users started using computers and the internet, the platform became a viable avenue for people to do business, express their opinion, and upload data for public access. This development has led to the development of some websites containing undesirable content; thus, the necessity for internet censorship.
Internet censorship entails the development of firewalls that hinder access to websites with undesirable content. Internet censorship may also entail prohibiting people from uploading selected information to the internet. Internet censorship is a common phenomenon in the current world, and it is inspired by governments, organizations, and community efforts to ensure that people do not have access to sensitive or explicit information.
Internet censorship may also be applied by individuals for self-regulation to evade some issues inspired by religion and culture. Many governments across the world have implemented internet censorship over the past decade to eliminate the access of specific web content by citizens.
While some people show their support for internet censorship, others have condemned it, claiming the denial of their rights to access the targeted information. There are different types of internet censorship, and they are categorized according to the technicality of the process. This paper looks into internet censorship with a close focus on technical censorship, which comprises of blocking and filtering.
Internet blocking is one of the technical measures used by the government, organizations, and computer owners to restrict access to specific information. Restricted information is normally against the laws and values of society.
Internet blocking operated based on denying access to certain websites for specific internet protocols (IP). Websites of specific shared hosting servers are blocked by the government and organizations, and the citizens have no access to the websites hosted by the blocked servers (Bee Think IP Blocker: Block Unwanted IP addresses based on IP blocklist, 2014).
The blocking process entails the use of software that identifies the IP address of the clients trying to view the prohibited websites, and it blocks their access. Internet blocking may also be used to hinder some internet users from uploading data and information to specific websites. This process also uses IP addresses to identify users, and it only allows specific IP addresses to upload data and information. This approach is used by most companies on their websites to enhance security (Frew & Sessano, 2009).
Internet censorship through blocking is subject to over-blocking and under-blocking. Over-blocking occurs when the government or organizations block more websites than intended in their quest to limit access to some websites. Most internet blocking software does not have the option of selecting specific domain names for websites. They just block every domain name from the hosting server, and this may result in blocking some harmless sites.
It is also possible for some blocking software to block websites with explicit content (How to, 2014). This selective blocking leads to easy access to unwanted information, which should be blocked. Some countries have embraced over-blocking the internet as a measure to ensure the people have no access to obscene content.
Internet censorship through blocking is used in the United States to ensure children do not have access to websites with obscene content. This internet censorship is a provision of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (Children’s Internet Protection Act, 2014). The Act compels the authorities to ensure that internet surfing for children is limited to access to educational content exclusively. It is the obligation of the government to protect the innocence of the children through internet censorship.
Filtering is also a technical method of internet censorship. The most common method of filtering is the uniform resource locator (URL) filtering process. The process entails scanning the URLs for specific words and blocking the ones containing specific words. This method is not secure for internet censorship because internet users can easily bypass it through a virtual private network (VPN) (Tyson & Crawford, 2014).
Packet filtering is also a common method of internet censorship, and it entails blocking TCP packets containing a given number of restricted words (PF, 2014). This approach is a realistic and practical internet censorship method because it avoids the restriction of harmless websites.
Filtering is a softer approach to internet blocking. Internet censorship through filtering is the best method of ensuring the public enjoys the freedom of access to information while restricting the nature of the content people can access. The internet is currently filled with explicit content, and it is the obligation of the government to protect people from it (Cho & Feldman, 2001).
Issues with blocking and filtering
While many people believe that blocking and filtering websites containing explicit and obscene content is appropriate, critics believe that internet censorship is inappropriate (Qazi, 2014). Critics of internet censorship claim that the process of blocking or filtering websites through hosting servers leads to the blockage and filtering of some helpful websites (Deibert, 2008). It is also apparent that the government may use internet censorship to gag certain news websites as the case is in China.
Internet censorship is a sensitive area that needs to be addressed through laws that do not offend the fundamental right of liberty and access to information (Wagner, 2010). In some nations, the government uses internet blocking and filtering as a method to hide information from the people.
Internet censorship can be used as a weapon to keep the truth hidden from people in a society. China actively censors the internet for civilians to block their access to different websites. Accessing selected websites is illegal in the country, and some people are even compelled to conduct self-censorship.
Internet censorship is implemented by the government, organizations, and respective internet users on their personal computers. The process of internet censorship can be conducted through a technical approach based on blocking and filtering. Internet blocking is an effective way of ensuring everyone in a selected society does not have access to websites with undesirable content. Filtering is a technical method of internet censorship, which is based on TCP packets.
The software used for filtering evaluates the contents of the URLs and decides whether to block the website or to provide access. There are many issues associated with internet censorship, mainly because it can be used to hide relevant information from people. For instance, the situation in China reveals that the government is concerned about the amount of political information available for the people. In such a case, the government uses internet censorship as a weapon to block the society from accessing helpful information.
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Deibert, R. (2008). Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering. Massachussets: MIT Press.
Frew, R. M., & Sessano, N. A. (2009). Survival-Enhanced 6th Edition: A Sequential Program for College Writing. Michigan: T.H Peek Publisher.
How to: Restrict Site Access by IP Address or Domain Name. (2014). Web.
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Qazi, U. (2014). The Internet Censorship Controversy. Web.
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