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Ethical Issyues with Internet Censorship and Restriction

3926 words (16 pages) Essay in Technology

18/05/20 Technology Reference this

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Task 1

There are other benefits associated with technology, such as reducing loneliness and improving social connectedness (Letts et al., 2017, pp.413). As revealed in Wasike (2013, pp.8) study, social media are essential as they provide people with forums to interact with each other. Social media facilitate governance, access to information and services, communication with the public, and promotes civic education (Wasike, 2013, pp.9). However, social connectedness can be limited through the use of censorship programs. Hamade (2008, pp.1082) defined censorship as technical approaches that control access to information on the Internet. The restriction is achieved on two levels, search results removal and technical blocking. Technical strategies of preventing users’ access to the Internet include DNS tampering, IP blocking, and blocking the URL using a proxy (Hamade, 2008, pp.1082). Specific websites, domains, or IP addresses are blocked. The government or organizations also interact with Internet service providers to ban, block, or omit various search results. This essay explores the ethical issues associated with the use of censorship programs to restrict the use of the Internet, mainly focusing on Twitter.

 

The Internet censorship is essential for the protection of children and adults from harmful content such as pornography, hate and terror websites, drugs and alcohol, and gambling. The social media, including Twitter, should censor sharing and posting of pornographic materials, content that incites violence, and content that threatens people. As expressed in Heins’s (2013, pp.326) study, Facebook as a social media site protects the user against categories such as incitement, treats, and some concepts of pornography that are not in the First Amendment. While the issue of protecting users against pornographic materials is commendable, Facebook falls short on the subject of suppressing nude images. There social problem in banning nude images because it impacts the sharing of visual arts, which affects photography and cinema. The issue also changes the way people share sexual education content. Therefore, there should be a limit on how such nude images are limited because the definition of nudity can be subjective to some extent. For instance, nude illustrations arts are blurred or blocked when they do not explicitly show nudity. In these instances, Twitter and other social sites should have a disclaimer that allows a user to choose whether to view the content or not, instead of blocking an individual from sharing their visual arts. Additionally, Heins (2013, pp.3) states that there is no clearly defined limits on what constitutes as defamatory, offensive, or inciting comments. Therefore, social media sites are left with huge control over freedom of expression because they get to decide what is considered as offensive content. Consequently, an individual might unfairly be subjected to censorship when, in reality, the material posted is not offensive. The protection against these vices is achieved through the use of government policies or parental control at home. Wang (2003, pp.214) study reports that the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CHIPA) directs the schools and libraries receiving federal funds in the United States to have an Internet safety policy for the protection of minors. The CHIPA mandates the schools to ensure that children do not access obscene, child pornography, or content that might be harmful to children.

Censorship infringes on people’s rights, including freedom of expression and speech. Censorship is essentially suppression of ideas and information considered as dangerous by government, organizations, or individuals. The main ethical issue in Internet censorship is how the program affects freedom of expression and speech (Kreimer, 2006, pp.33). The First Amendment in the United States has several proponents that revolve around the freedom of an individual to express ideas, opinions, and engage in research (Balkin, 2009, pp.427). The First Amendment also protects groups of people sharing, promoting, and exchanging ideas. Moreover, Balkin (2009, pp.429) argued that network service providers are not subject to nondiscrimination regulations, and it leads to several problems. The restriction is enforced on many levels, such as removing the websites, censoring content, or restricting information from certain people based on region, age, or any other characteristics. Such issues are used to prevent people from finding out the truth. Hamade (2008, pp.1084) reported that the Supreme Court in the United States indicated some categories of speech are not protected within the First Amendment. These actions include child pornography, obscenity, words that incite lawlessness, and defamation. Additionally, governments are allowed to protect the information when it is a matter of national security.

There are several IT ethical issues that professionals and people, in general, need to observe when using social media, and it would be justifiable to block users who violate these principles. The ethical issues include violation of intellectual property rights, violation of employee privacy, violation of customer privacy, spamming, violation of free speech, and exaggeration of IT capabilities (Litzky & Oz, 2008, pp.70). For instance, Bamman et al. (2012) indicated that Twitter and other social media websites routinely delete messages when policing spams. Copyright infringement can also lead to censorship of messages, which is one of the main reasons some content is blocked from airing in certain regions. Twitter also allows users to report content that is considered harmful, and they delete it from the website. Additionally, self-censorship occurs when the users delete messages from their social media accounts for personal reasons.

Spammers and spamming should also be blocked from accessing the Internet. For instance, Thomas, Grier, and Paxson’s (2012, pp.1) study explores how 25,860 fraudulent Twitter accounts were used to send tweets intended to disrupt the political conversation in Russia after parliamentary election results were announced. Spammers on Twitter post numerous messages on hashtags to dilute the actual messages (Thomas et al., 2012, pp.2). Additionally, Verkamp and Gupta (2013, pp.1) indicated spam accounts are used to suppress political expression and spread propaganda.

The other ethical or social challenge associated with Internet censoring is that it relies on a number of complementary strategies. Such strategies include arbitrary arrests, discriminatory legal measures, and intimidation. Censorship is used by authoritarian governments to suppress masses from holding political rallies and airing their grievances. For instance, Egypt temporary blocked Twitter and other social media sites during the January 2011 protests (Bamman, O’Connor, & Smith, 2012, pp.1). China also uses DNS and IP filtering to block websites from other countries, which prevents the Chinese from accessing foreign social media sites such as Facebook and Google (Bamman et al., 2012, pp.1). China uses Internet filtering to block users from searching specific terms or posting particular messages on social media sites. Messages with terms such as Qinghai and Tibet are considered as harmful are deleted retroactively in China (Bamman et al., 2012, pp.2). Search blocking and deletion of messages in China limit the freedom of expression and infringe on the right of people to access information. Bamman et al. (2012, p.9) found that most of the social media posts and search limits are deleted and blocked because they contain politically sensitive information.These measures are mainly applied in countries where political censoring is applied, and it is done to regulate people from posting and viewing Internet content. Therefore, censoring Twitter is usually is not only accompanied by violation of human rights such as freedom of expression, but it also leads to arbitrary arrests of protestors (Casilli & Tubaro, 2012, pp.10). China uses actions blocking the servers, keywords, domains, and IP addresses, establishing licensing systems that register Internet sites for ease during monitoring, and expanding defamation and slander laws to cover critical materials (Bowe & Blom, 2010, pp.327). Also, countries such as China have strict control over information flow, and they prosecute anyone for leaking state secrets. The challenge with prosecuting people for leaking secrets is because the definition of what secrets entail remains vague, which further facilitates governments to arrest and censor all types of critical information (Xu & Albert, 2014, pp.1). Bowe and Blom (2010) also indicate governments such as China use surveillance methods to monitor individual Internet accounts. This method violates the privacy of the citizens who are denied the right to express themselves or live a private life.Bowe and Blom (2010, pp.323) opined human rights activists turn to Internet technologies such as Twitter, among others, to spread information about injustices committed by governments. Human rights activists also air grievances that governments would like to keep out of the public domain. Authoritarian regimes use repressive means to ensure opposition, and critical messages against the governments are not published on the Internet. Blocking or filtering this information from Twitter or other social sites creates a social problem because such governments could do damaging things on citizens.

 

 Promoting access to information over the Internet is critical to the success of some businesses. Therefore, denying users to post some information inhibits economic development and reduces the support for innovation. Sharing of ideas and information creates a safe environment where people are allowed to interact, dream, and take risks. Censoring Twitter also promotes growing concerns about poor governance and inhibits growth. For instance, Chen (2000) study discussed the issues surrounding the Online Services Act intended to censor the consumption of sexually explicit and illegal content in Australia. However, well-intentioned the bill was, there were ethical issues pointed out by agencies indicated Internet censorship at ISP-level would slow down Internet performance and significantly reduce the growth of electronic commerce in Australia (Chen, 2000, pp.19).

In conclusion, no government or organization should infringe on human rights, especially on freedom of expression. The study shows that censorships impede citizens’ rights to share and receive information, which leads to negative consequences. Restricting access to information leaves people uneducated on issues happening around the world. Additionally, censoring and deleting social media messages means that the government might violate human rights, and the world would not know about it since there is no means of sharing information. Cases of injustices are usually accompanied by restriction of the Internet, as reported in Xu and Albert’s (2014) study. I also think that countries should never collaborate with states to restrict access to information.

Bibliography                                                            

  1. Balkin, J. M. (2009). The future of free expression in a digital age. Pepp. L. Rev., 36, 427-444.Retrieved from: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1222&context=fss_papers
  2. Bamman, D., O’Connor, B., & Smith, N. (2012). Censorship and deletion practices in Chinese social media. First Monday, 17(3). Doi: 10.5210/fm.v17i3.3943
  3. Bowe, B. J., & Blom, R. (2010). Facilitating dissent: the ethical implications of political organizing via social media. Politics, Culture & Socialization, 323. Retrieved from: https://www.budrich-journals.de/index.php/pcs/article/view/19711
  4. Casilli, A. A., & Tubaro, P. (2012). Social Media Censorship in Times of Political Unrest-A Social Simulation Experiment with the UK Riots. Bulletin of Sociological Methodology/Bulletin de Méthodologie Sociologique, 115(1), 5-20. Doi: 10.1177/0759106312445697
  5. Chen, P. (2000). Pornography, protection, prevarication: the politics of Internet censorship. UNSWLJ, 23, 221. Retrieved from: https://minerva-access.unimelb.edu.au/bitstream/handle/11343/33748/65924_00000316_01_pornographyprotectionprevarication.pdf?sequence=1
  6. Hamade, S. N. (2008). Internet filtering and censorship. In Fifth International Conference on Information Technology: New Generations, (pp. 1081-1086). Doi: 10.1109/ITNG.2008.50
  7. Heins, M. (2013). The brave new world of social media censorship. Harv. L. Rev. F., 127, 325. Retrieved from: https://www.academia.edu/download/58748455/AmmoriReplyPublishedHLRForum.pdf
  8. Kreimer, S. F. (2006). Censorship by proxy: The First Amendment, internet intermediaries, and the problem of the weakest link. U. Pa. L. Rev., 155, 11. Retrieved from: http://www.academia.edu/download/17486617/Censorship_by_Proxy__the_First_Amendment__Internet_Intermediaries.pdf
  9. Letts, L., Richardson, J. A., Chan, D., Siu, H., Sinclair, S., Sanford, S., & Thabane, L. (2017). Challenges and benefits of technology-enabled rehabilitation to promote physical functioning. Innovation in Aging, 1(suppl_1), 413-413. Doi: 10.1093/geroni/igx004.1488
  10. Litzky, B. E., & Oz, E. (2008). Ethical issues in information technology: Does education make a difference. International Journal of Information and Communication Technology Education (IJICTE), 4(2), 67-83. Retrieved from: https://www.igi-global.com/article/ethical-issues-information-technology/2346
  11. Thomas, K., Grier, C., & Paxson, V. (2012). Adapting social spam infrastructure for political censorship. Presented as part of the 5th {USENIX} Workshop on Large-Scale Exploits and Emergent Threats. Retrieved from: https://www.usenix.org/conference/leet12/workshop-program/presentation/thomas
  12. Verkamp, J. P., & Gupta, M. (2013). Five incidents, one theme: Twitter spam as a weapon to drown voices of protest. Presented as part of the 3rd {USENIX} Workshop on Free and Open Communications on the Internet. Retrieved from: https://www.usenix.org/conference/foci13/workshop-program/presentation/verkamp
  13. Wang, C. (2003). Internet Censorship in the United States: stumbling blocks to the Information Age. IFLA Journal, 29(3), 213-221. Retrieved from: https://origin-www.ifla.org/files/assets/hq/publications/ifla-journal/ij-3-2003.pdf#page=13
  14. Wasike, J. (2013). Social media ethical issues: role of a librarian. Library Hi Tech News, 30(1), 8-16. Doi: 10.1108/07419051311320922/full/html
  15. Xu, B., & Albert, E. (2014). Media censorship in China. Council on Foreign Relations, 25, 243. Retrieved from: https://www.files.ethz.ch/isn/177388/media%20censorship%20in%20china.pdf

Appendix I                                                                  

URL: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1EjI1tv7Xv1r2AkmXfTBy4y37E_3O-uD3?usp=sharing

Word Count: 1655.

Task 2                                                                   

 

Argument

The Internet censorship is essential for the protection of children and adults from harmful content such as pornography, hate and terror websites, drugs and alcohol, and gambling. The social media, including Twitter, should censor sharing and posting of pornographic materials, content that incites violence, and content that threatens people

Premises

Wang (2003, pp.214) study reports that the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CHIPA) directs the schools and libraries receiving federal funds in the United States to have an Internet safety policy for the protection of minors.

Heins’s (2013, pp.326) study, Facebook as a social media site protects the user against categories such as incitement, treats, and some concepts of pornography that are not in the First Amendment.

Conclusion

The premises show the essence of restricting users from sharing or viewing some information because it protects the children and adults from harmful content.

Sound argument

Yes, this is sound arguments because they offer detailed explanation of how such content are harmful to people.

Inductive argument

Yes, they offer valid reasons that connects with viable conclusions.

Argument

Censorship infringes on people’s rights, including freedom of expression and speech. Censorship is essentially suppression of ideas and information considered as dangerous by government, organizations, or individuals.  

Premises

The main ethical issue in Internet censorship is how the program affects freedom of expression and speech (Kreimer, 2006, pp.33). The First Amendment in the United States has several proponents that revolve around the freedom of an individual to express ideas, opinions, and engage in research (Balkin, 2009, pp.427).

China also uses DNS and IP filtering to block websites from other countries, which prevents the Chinese from accessing foreign social media sites such as Facebook and Google (Bamman et al., 2012, pp.1).

Conclusion

The premises raise valid and factual information on how censorship of social media sites affects freedom of expression.

Sound argument

Yes, these are sound arguments because they offer detailed explanation of how suppression of rights and freedom of expression occur.

Inductive argument

Yes, they offer valid reasons that connects the research premise.

Argument

There are several IT ethical issues that professionals and people, in general, need to observe when using social media, and it would be justifiable to block users who violate these principles.

Premises

The ethical issues include violation of intellectual property rights, violation of employee privacy, violation of customer privacy, spamming, violation of free speech, and exaggeration of IT capabilities (Litzky & Oz, 2008, pp.70). For instance, Bamman et al. (2012) indicated that Twitter and other social media websites routinely delete messages when policing spams.

Conclusion

The premises raise valid and factual information on how censorship of is beneficial, especially when dealing with people who don’t follow or adhere terms of service and ethical standards.

Sound argument

Yes, these are sound arguments because they offer detailed explanation of users can be censored or blocked on social media.

Inductive argument

Yes, they offer viable arguments for blocking users when they violate terms of services.

Argument

Spammers and spamming should also be blocked from accessing the Internet.

Premises

Thomas, Grier, and Paxson’s (2012, pp.1) study explores how 25,860 fraudulent Twitter accounts were used to send tweets intended to disrupt the political conversation in Russia after parliamentary election results were announced. Spammers on Twitter post numerous messages on hashtags to dilute the actual messages (Thomas et al., 2012, pp.2). Verkamp and Gupta (2013, pp.1) indicated spam accounts are used to suppress political expression and spread propaganda.

Conclusion

The premises show the essence of restricting users from sharing misleading information.

Sound argument

Yes, false and fake new should be blocked from viewers.

Inductive argument

Yes, they offer valid reasons that connects with the conclusions of the study.

Argument

The other ethical or social challenge associated with Internet censoring is that it relies on a number of complementary strategies. Such strategies include arbitrary arrests, discriminatory legal measures, and intimidation. Censorship is used by authoritarian governments to suppress masses from holding political rallies and airing their grievances.

Premises

Egypt temporary blocked Twitter and other social media sites during the January 2011 protests (Bamman, O’Connor, & Smith, 2012, pp.1). China also uses DNS and IP filtering to block websites from other countries, which prevents the Chinese from accessing foreign social media sites such as Facebook and Google (Bamman et al., 2012, pp.1).

Messages with terms such as Qinghai and Tibet are considered as harmful are deleted retroactively in China (Bamman et al., 2012, pp.2).

China uses actions blocking the servers, keywords, domains, and IP addresses, establishing licensing systems that register Internet sites for ease during monitoring, and expanding defamation and slander laws to cover critical materials (Bowe & Blom, 2010, pp.327).

Conclusion

Government engage in acts that violate human rights when they are aware people won’t report the news to International organizations. Therefore, the studies succeed in showing how political arrests and violation of human rights occurs in areas where censorship happen.

Sound argument

Yes, there are multiple cases of unjustifiable and arbitrary arrests to support the claims. 

Inductive argument

Yes, they show how harmful it is to censor social media and news outlet.

Argument

Promoting access to information over the Internet is critical to the success of some businesses.

Premises

For instance, Chen (2000) study discussed the issues surrounding the Online Services Act intended to censor the consumption of sexually explicit and illegal content in Australia. However, well-intentioned the bill was, there were ethical issues pointed out by agencies indicated Internet censorship at ISP-level would slow down Internet performance and significantly reduce the growth of electronic commerce in Australia (Chen, 2000, pp.19)

Conclusion

It is true that lack of free media creates a vacuum where people are not allowed to express their ideas, which significantly inhibits innovation. Denying users to post some information inhibits economic development and reduces the support for innovation.

Sound argument

Yes, people who are not free to share information do not take risks, share credible information, or collaborate to create innovative projects. 

Inductive argument

Yes, because censoring social media is harmful to innovation and business growth.

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