Thursday, December 2, 2010

Should the online world have complete freedom of speech?

Icon for censorshipImage via Wikipedia
Blogs, websites, online diaries or any other form of online publishing enjoys quite frankly the complete absence of censorship. To be fair though, there is 'some' amount of filtering which is done but its mostly regarding absolutely outrageous content. 

Then again, if one has a self hosted blog that censorship doesnt happen. So frankly everone can have a field day on the internet expressing our beliefs, opinions, concerns and fears without having to worry about any part of it getting blocked.
Then something like the wiki leaks episode happens and politicians go crazy and the moral police all over the world start talking about excessive liberalisation happening all over the internet. This in my opinion is a valid debate and should be discussed. Even though something like wiki leaks is about exposing the deeds of various governments by leaking various documents obtained by shady and unethical means, it still is a glowing example of the freedom of 'speech' in the online world.

The question is though, is this freedom being misused? Is this freedom an example of all rights and no duties? Does this freedom need some curbing? Do we need some sort of censorship of sensitive content?
Time and again, the internet (rather some people using it) has been used for outrageous hate speeches. Be it against religious icons, celebrated leaders or regarding sensitive classified content. Some of these actions have led to public outrage and chaos in some parts of the world which could have otherwise been avoided. Some of the web is registered for unethical and illegal activities.

Total and complete freedom may be essential for a flourishing democracy, the online world being one but its upto the users to ensure some sort of filtering mechanism. Now that sort of a thing cannot and should not be imposed upon us by governments but by independent people around the world of considerable repute. Only then will the web be a safe, smart and civilised domain.

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