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Online voices should not be silenced

Editorial Cartoon by Jason D. Cox

After the blackout of dozens of popular sites around the United States, Congress decided to put aside the SOPA and PIPA bills that threatened the freedom of the Internet. While this might not be the last we see of them, many Americans feel they can breathe easier now that the government knows the uproar that awaits if this type of bill is suggested again.

However, while the good fight will continue on our soil, other countries already have censorship bills put into place.

China, who has Internet censorship bills in place for regulation purposes, tightened its policies in 2010 to protect their country’s secrets.

However, the policy remained so vague that the government was able to blanket all telecommunication operators and Internet companies.

In order to continue business, the companies have to bend to the government’s wishes. For example, all cyber cafes must buy a license and make their users register their IP address with the authorities so they can gain access to the Internet.

China is not the only one who rules the Web with an iron fist; Australia, Turkey and Britain have proposed bills that would “regulate” the content published on the Internet. All of the countries claim it is to protect the people by allowing authorities to step in if there is a threat to the country.

However, the only thing the bills seem to be doing is pulling negative comments about the government off of the Web and putting people exercising their freedom of speech in jail.

This whole situation is almost the equivalent to deleting comments on Facebook because a person feels the snooty remarks are aimed at him or her.

The Internet is the last frontier of freedom. If regulations were put into place to monitor what people are allowed to say, then there is not much freedom to be had.

While these new laws and regulations are going into place, there are passages of Human Rights treaties being ignored. In Article 19 of “Expression Freedom of Internet” it clearly states that everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression.

People are allowed to look up, discuss and interpret information freely regardless of what frontier. These treaties were put into place to protect rights, but are now being stretched to cover the government’s agendas.

The leaders that are determined to see these bills pass should look back to the treaties that were signed for human rights and realize that the freedoms that governments sought to preserve are being threatened.

The Internet is a place for people not only to express themselves but to connect with others to discuss issues without being silenced.

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