Course taster

Web censorship

As we have seen, the development of the World Wide Web was inspired by a vision of global connectivity, information sharing and unrestricted communications. It was to be a system that transcended national borders and that supported universal access. Irrespective of wealth, nationality and social status, people would be able to gain connectivity and become part of a worldwide community. The web offered an opportunity to overcome governmental repression, to bring people of all nations together and to erode the distrust and misunderstanding that has had for so long been the breeding ground of conflict.

However, as the web rapidly expanded, many governments began to introduce censorship. This was often based on cultural and religious belief - although in some cases, governments were clearly motivated by a drive to exercise control and restrict the free flow of information. Naturally, in cases where the traditional media operated under government control, it was untenable to allow the web to operate without similar restrictions.

The recent growth in the application of governmental censorship and the advanced use of firewalls is beginning to fracture the vision of global connectivity.

In this unit, we consider aspects of governmental censorship and its application to the web. This is a subject that raises many important ethical issues. And before continuing to study this unit, it is a good idea to pause and consider your current position in respect of web censorship.


Discuss some or all of the following (The link to the Discussion Board is not available in this course taster):

1 - Do you believe that the web should be subject to governmental censorship?

2 - In the case that censorship is imposed, who should decide on what forms of content and communication should be censored?

3 - To what extent do you believe that governments tend to use web censorship to increase their control over and/or repression of the population?

4 - Do you believe that commercial organisations and/or government agencies should monitor and record our individual web activities?

5 - Can you name any countries that are entirely free from web censorship?