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Unit summary

The imposition of censorship raises many ethical questions and may be motivated by diverse factors that range from attempts to safeguard the vulnerable to efforts to suppress those who oppose the excesses of corrupt government. Censorship of Internet content is of growing concern and, as we have seen, may lead to the fracturing of the vision of a global network that promotes unity between nations.

Despite best efforts, it is unlikely that Internet censorship can ever be fully effective. Certainly, in China, many users continue to successfully tunnel through the Great Firewall and gain access to uncensored content. Furthermore, much of the most extreme forms of web content is made available via the Dark Web, which is secured by high levels of encryption and is very difficult to control.

As computing and IT professionals, it is most important that we stay abreast of the latest developments in relation to Internet censorship and develop informed personal ethical positions in respect of the use of censorship as a means of controlling the use of cyberspace. We must also remain fully aware of the broader ethical issues associated with supporting governments in their efforts to impose such controls.

Finally, it is important to bear in mind that even search engines created by companies such as Google can be used to impose a form of censorship. This is achieved by suppressing some search results and promoting others. Thus, a search engine may return results that it is believed will be of interest to a particular person, or may return results that are intended to shape a person's interests and outlook.