It’s the critical time for the internet now, as countries continue to stifle the internet in many different ways. Over recent years, there have been continuous debates as to who should control the internet, if it should be controlled at all. Every single entity one can think of, including certain individuals, keeps thriving to gain control over the internet. In most cases, they even join forces to stifle the internet, and I mean the government, the companies, and individual authorities of each country. The threats to innovation and control of the internet that corporations do, are often supported by the actions of their government, or even the lack of it. It could either be because they are scared to lose campaign contributions from these groups, or they are legitimately supporting such actions. Let’s take a look at how some countries stifle the internet.
The Federal Communications Commission of the United States of America regulates all electronic communication in the whole country. While the USA has minimal regulations over communication content, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have regulations. They even have the most sophisticated regulations of the internet because their laws are so broad, it can capture the internet even without amendments. It is also worth mentioning that the said sophistication must have rooted from the fact that the telephone and the internet were both invented in the USA.
Although China has relaxed a bit on their censorship of the internet since the time that all users had to register with the police, they have not completely stopped. They just recently passed a law compelling that all economic news services provided by foreign companies such as Reuters and Knight-Rider, should only be distributed through their official news agency, Xinhua. It seems that the laws applied to the internet in this country are subsets of the laws that they apply to electronic media. Currently, China continues to stifle the internet in many other ways aside from what has already been mentioned, as it is now a common knowledge that they are one of the biggest innovators of technology around the world. In this view, we can expect more stifling of the internet from them for many years more.
Controversies surround Russia now as thousands of people sprawled in the big cities, including Moscow, to protest against tighter internet restrictions early this year. A law has been passed that will prevent foreign internet networks from entering the country, thereby allowing more stifling from the Russian government. This is on top of other tougher internet laws passed over recent years, such as the requirement for search engines to delete certain results, storing of users’ personal data on servers that are exclusive in the country for social networking, and sharing of encryption keys with security services for managing messaging services.
Taken as one, countries in Europe have a long history of stifling the internet. From their aggressive data protection and other digital laws to the heated issues on Articles 11 and 13 of the European Union’s Copyright Directive. When platforms like Google or Facebook show snippets of their articles, Article 11 will give the right to the publishers to charge a fee. Article 13 will make these platforms directly responsible for their uploaded content that intrudes copyright. This insinuates that such contents should have "filters" by scanning it before uploading. While these articles are in deadlock since early this year, if and when both are approved by the participating countries, internet in Europe will transform from being an open platform for communication and innovation, into an instrument of electronic and automated surveillance of the users.
A final thought
The purpose of the internet is that when you need information, for instance, an address, it leads you to get there without anybody who tells you to go somewhere else. If you need to communicate with someone, nobody else tells you to talk to a different person instead. If you need to send money to a relative who lives in another part of the world, there should be no fee. The internet should be the face of freedom for users all over the world.