Internet has brought a revolution for freedom of speech and censorship alike. It holds a vast majority of information and knowledge and provides people with new opportunities of self-expression and involvement. However, with all this freedom come new boundaries. The higher the access to information becomes, the stronger the security gets. The cyberspace is an enormous platform for anyone wishing to be heard, and for anyone who has something important to say. The revolution didn’t limit itself on free speech alone, but also on who is censoring and the purpose behind it.
The internet seems to be quite a free place to an average person. However, when you start looking deeper, the details resurface. Nowadays, the content on the internet is highly controlled. At first it may sound reasonable, but diving into the details the patterns start to quickly be visible. There was a point where governments used to be in control of the censorship on and offline. Nowadays, that’s certainly not the case. With huge corporations running national and world economy, the governments simply don’t have enough power to overtake them.
Human rights are being violated on a daily basis and the users are not even aware of it. For instance take Facebook into account. When you register there you sign an agreement, usually people don’t go through it, but what they do is allow the platform to use the user’s information for their personal purposes. In a single quarter of 2014, Facebook made $2.8 billion solely off personal information. Facebook uses user’s personal information and their online activity to target ads. The information they collect on the users is sold to for advertisement purposes. Whether the person will complain or not, nothing would change the situation because the user has no power over it, especially with an already signed agreement.
According to CPJ Committee to Protect Journalists, the top ten countries with the highest censorship on the internet is as follows: Eritrea, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Iran, China, Myanmar and Cuba. For journalists those countries are a dangerous place. Some forms of punishment include imprisonment, threats, spying and imposition of limits on movement between countries.
These countries use the most popular filtering system available, such as the filtering software by SmartFilter, owned by a California based company. This program has been use in places such as Sudan, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia, the places considered to have one of the most authoritarian regimes.
With all this censorship taking place, adult sites are still available to everyone and it’s one of the most highly striving industries. It is quite clear that censorship has become a commercial enterprise and it’s not there to serve people’s needs, corporations rather make profit of it than use it for the greater good. The governments of other countries buy the filtering software programs in order to control the masses in their land. However, as the journalist Xeni Jardin has said “a successful American export – clearly more popular than democracy.”