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Governments And Internet Censorship
Today the internet is used for education, activism, and even for spreading ideas. In most cases, it is very useful and through which we can get benefited. But in some situations, it may become a threat to authoritarian governments. This is the main reason some of the countries in the world have decided to strictly censor websites, communication, and content. Bu internet censorship is a threat to democracy. It is against freedom of expression. But, in some countries, strictest controls have been implemented against this freedom. But, there are some measures implemented for citizens and we need to understand how citizens can get around them.
Internet censorship – How is it done?
There are plenty of ways to censor the internet. There are some extreme examples like North Korea. Here the majority of the population cannot access the internet. But there is a small portion of the society that has given access to the internet. But, even they have very strict rules and tightly controlled intranet. So, this system has made average citizens impossible to access the free internet.
There are mainly two ways used for this censor. One is content filtering and the other is site blocking. When these measures are taken, the websites are completely blocked. Through these techniques, it is possible to suppress the instances of criticism of the regime. Along with that they block resistance movements and ban ideas as well as content that may deem inappropriate. They complete stopping the flow of any information when during political turmoil and in other conditions.
There are algorithms available for blocking sites. So, websites can be either blocked manually or they can be automatically blocked using these algorithms. An algorithm can detect controversial material and stops that website respectively. A website can be blocked permanently or on a dynamic basis. In some countries, governments block content only during political scandals and elections. Governments even block the sites just to avoid harm to the regime in such conditions.
Countries with internet censorship
Almost all countries have some level of censorship on the internet. But here is a list of countries which have made very strictest systems for preventing citizens from accessing the internet available in the country freely.
Even though China has widespread access to the internet, it has the most extensive and advanced censorship systems. Chinese have no access to most of the foreign websites. There is no access given to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Wikipedia. But, many tightly controlled platforms are owned by China. They have their own Youku Tudou and We Chat. Baidu is their search engine. But only thing is, these platforms have strict controls and the content in them is completely restricted compared to their western counterparts. So, that hampers the complete flow of information on most of the important topics.
Based on the opinion given by researchers, WeChatScope, China has restricted information regarding US sanctions against ZTE, China-US trade war, and information on the arrest of Huawei’s CFO in Canada. These are some of the taboo topics but there is more. Along with blocking information on these types of topics, China also has measures taken on blocking sites and content filtering. Through these measures, they are successfully preventing protests and even jail dissidents.
Of course, China has the best and advanced censorship system but, when it comes to limited access to the internet North Korea is in the first place. This country is completely insular and it is not easy to find several users using the internet here. Even for specific institutions and elite classes, the internet is completely limited.
But, the good thing is the majority of the North Koreans have access to mobile phones. But, the majority of them are not connected to the internet. Even when people have access to the internet, they can only access Kwangmyong, a national intranet. This intranet works between universities for sharing information. They can share their libraries. Along with that intranet may also work between government departments and for some locally hosted websites. The content available is completely restricted and most of it is infused with propaganda.
Till recently this country had very strict rules on internet access. But in 2015 they took a few steps and now there are Wi-Fi hotspots available for public. In 2018 they even introduced 3G. Today, Cubans are accessing the internet from their own devices through their data plans. But, when compared to their average salary even today internet is very costly in Cuba. More than that, they have strict censorship in place. There are blocks against bloggers and publishers on covering the human rights of Cuba. None of the content can comment or criticize the political system. But, good thing is, most of the foreign outlets are permitted.
Cuba has allowed social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook. But, Skype doesn’t work in Cuba and there is some strange reason behind it. Cubans can access the Tor network. So, people who can afford the internet can get away from the restrictions.
These are some of the governments who have taken measures about censorship of the internet. Along with these, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam have also applied censorship to some extent.…