Internet can be considered as a very significant platform that provides the people a new opportunity of expression. The free flow of information has allowed accessing a wide variety of information related to academics as well as entertainment. One the one hand, Internet has provided the freedom of expression; on the other hand, it has also challenged the right to freedom of expression. The free flow of information has also raised the challenge and problem of content regulation. A study suggests that Internet is “the space promised a kind of society that real space could never allow – freedom without anarchy, control without government, consensus without power” (Jørgensen 10). The economic power and potential of Internet is very high, as it provides new opportunities to the businesses and also to consumers. It has significantly helped in the process of globalization, innovation and growth of many businesses. Internet has also given birth to some of the most innovative companies, such as Google, Apple, E-bay and Amazon. The role of Internet in economy can’t be denied. However, the free access and free flow of information has caused many countries to restrict various Internet sites to be accessed by their citizens. In many countries, Internet is not free, as it is believed, due to pornography, illegal content, indecent imaging of women and children and many other reasons.
Reasons of Restricting Internet Sites
The countries worldwide understand the importance and significance of Internet, yet they have some restrictions. Some of the significant reasons for restricting the Internet sites are the free flow of information that results in providing improper information to minors, cyber crimes, unsafe financial transactions, etc. The minors are also easily able to access the potentially harmful information. There are only few countries in the world that have little or no surveillance over Interne. Most of the countries and their government have tried to control the use of Internet among their citizens. This control is applied through internet censorship. This can be considered as a kind of suppression or reducing the access to the published or viewed content on Internet. Some authors have also considered this restriction as digital dictatorship.
A new Russian Internet law was passed in 2012, “that is ostensibly aimed at protecting children from websites promoting drug use, suicide, and pedophilia” (Kerr 1).This law is also believed to be the amendment of the existing law, which is called as “Act for Information”. Under this law, Russia has blacklisted the banned Internet websites. Another example of the Internet censorship is of Iran. The evidences have shown that Iranian government has succeeded in operating the largest and most sophisticated kind of censorship on Internet. It is also defined as the ‘least free’ country in terms of providing Internet freedom to its citizens (Aryan, Simurgh, Homa, and Halderman 1). The main reason for Internet restriction in Iran is to protect its citizens, from viewing any content that is “un-Islamic”. The government of Iran restricts everything that is critical towards their religion or government. They also have a cyber police unit that is responsible for monitoring the online activities of the citizens and also prosecutes dissidents.
Internet access in Cuba is also highly restricted and even the citizens are restricted to have the basic computer access. The reason for restricted Internet penetration in Cuba is the deliberate policy of the Cuban government. Some other reasons for the lack of appropriate internet access is poor infrastructure and high filtering by government, as they wish to keep control over their citizens. North Korea is an authoritarian country that wishes to control the Internet access. North Korean government controls the access to Internet, as they believe that Internet access can “cause political destabilization by enabling economic and political information to flow freely beyond governmental control” (Ko, Heejin and Seungkwon, 279). The North Korean government use Internet as an important propaganda tool that is mainly for attracting foreign investments. The North Korean Internet policy is highly restrictive and it is not possible in the near future to turn it to reactive Internet policy.