Freedom of information goes hand in hand with freedom of thought. I’d wager that you harbor the same opinion as I do regarding what we read, hear, view and disseminate. Many of us believe that we enjoy pretty much complete freedom of information in the USA.
Well, I have issues with the phrase “pretty much”. What is being left out of the information supply in the USA? How about elsewhere? Who controls our access to complete, freedom of information? Why censorship? What degree of censorship is forced over certain nations?
When we think of cyber censorship, we automatically think of the draconian measures in places like Communist China, Saudi Arabia and much of the Middle East. You might not be surprised that many questions about cyber freedom exist in Russia, Turkey and Indonesia. You may be quite surprised that there are many restrictions and questionable levels of censorship in Australia.
There is the “piddling amount” of censorship in Western Europe, much of Africa, India, most of South America and Canada the we “enjoy” in the U.S.
I found out that some countries place no censorship on the web. They include places like Chile, Mexico, a large swath of Africa and most of the Pacific islands. I was quite surprised to see that Mongolia and Madagascar are censorship free.
Who is responsible for the censorship, in the first place? We can conveniently blame various governments. Oppressive regimes in Asia and the Middle East are obvious. But where there is only “some” censorship, there are various people responsible for controlling the flow of information. Usually we will find that there are groups of people who believe they know what is good for us better than we do.
Most of the groups fall under the auspices of corporate power and their public relations bureaucracies. There are numerous religious organizations of various denominations that wish to keep certain information under wraps. There is much influence buying and selling by the groups engaging with legislatures and bureaus.
Reputations of corporations, religions and government officials are at stake. There is also the excuse of the percieved need to filter “immoral” content, as well. These insidious reasons set precedents that can be used to filter any content at all.
The urge to censor our information will never go away. Like all freedoms, we must keep a constant vigil on cyber freedoms. When most of us remain apathetic or become swayed by the press releases of the censors, all of us will lose our cyber freedoms. When we lose our cyber freedoms, the other freedoms will be greatly threatened in turn. Whoever controls the information, controls the world.
History has shown that the restriction of information is one of the primary steps when tyrannical powers usurp the levers of control in nations.
How free are we now in the “Land of the Free”? Will we be less or more so in the years to come?
The Blue Jay of Happiness hopes you’ll commemorate “World Day Against Cyber Censorship” today.