Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve probably heard stories about various governments censoring the internet freedom for their citizens. Although some people might like to believe this internet censorship only occurs in places such as North Korea, China, and Cuba, where government presence in daily activities is known to be strong, this is far from the case. In fact, government censorship is strong across the board, keeping people from creating and accessing content on the internet, as well as keeping tabs on what people do online. Don’t think this matters to you? Think again.
United States Internet Scandal
In terms of internet surveillance and censorship, the US government is actually one of the worst offenders. Of course, it’s all done in the name of protecting the country’s citizens, but is that any excuse for having your medical records, financial history, social media accounts, and other information compromised? And it’s not something that’s specific to citizens either. According to reports, the US government has been spying on other countries’ governments as well.
Australian Laws Against Torrenting
But the US is far from the only country where government internet surveillance and censorship is an issue. Australia recently passed legislation allowing for closer government surveillance of internet usage. The legislation can be used to restrict the usage of torrenting sites, regardless of the legality of the files that you’re attempting to download. The measures are meant to cut down on pirating, but it’s a sweeping blow that does little to address the real cause of the issue and instead just puts a lot of power in the government’s hands.
And there are others too who pose a threat to your internet freedom
In fact, government internet surveillance and censorship happens all around the world. There’s basically nowhere you can go to be free of it. Some countries have even gone as far to outlaw measures intended to circumvent government censorship. But the original intention of the internet was for it to be free for everyone to use as a method of sharing ideas, learning new things, and contacting people around the world. How is it fair for one government to restrict what everyone else sees?
Recently, the Indian Government has blocked 857 adult sites and most internet service providers (ISPs) including BSNL, MTNL and Vodafone are showing blank pages when accessing these websites. This has produced a strong reaction from netizens and throughout the social media sites. Indian film director Ram Gopal Varma was one of the first people to react on twitter. He tweeted, “To deprive consenting adults of the harmless fun they are having of watching adult content is equivalent of what Taliban and ISIS is doing to freedom”. He also suggested that Government should work on finding ways to steer the content not to go in wrong directions rather than to block it.
Why Is This Wrong?
The government is just trying to protect you, though, aren’t they? That’s true, to a certain extent. But if your government really suspects that you’re a criminal, shouldn’t they need to have a warrant to search through your internet-usage history? After all, there are plenty of reasons to use a torrent site, and they’re not all illegal. Maybe you just need to quickly share large files of your own creation (whether music, videos, photos, documents, or whatever else) with friends, family members, or coworkers. And do you really think your government has the right to treat you like a criminal when you haven’t necessarily done anything wrong?
The Truth of It
Of course, any time you’re using the internet, you’re using a system of trust. There are plenty of illegal activities that you could be doing. That said, isn’t that true for everything? There are plenty of illegal activities you could get into out on the street as well, but does that mean the government should be checking up on your every move? These days, so much of our lives are based around the internet, from shopping to communicating to planning and more. Allowing your government to censor and survey what you do online might mean that you only have access to certain sites or information — the same as if your government told you that you were only allowed to shop at certain stores in your town or only allowed to attend certain schools. If you wouldn’t stand for that, why should it be any different with the internet?
And It Could Get Worse
The thing that’s really scary about internet surveillance and censorship is that there’s no set end to it. The internet is constantly evolving, and so too are laws related to the internet freedom. It’s entirely possible that something we take for granted today could be outlawed in future years or that something you do today on the internet could come back to haunt you in future years when you’re trying to get a job or something like that. There’s no expiration date to the data the government has collected, and there’s little you can do to stop them from stealing you information, which puts us in an eerily science fiction-like scenario where the government could know everything about our day-to-day lives.
Can You Get Around Internet Surveillance and Censorship?
Even if you’re not doing anything illegal on the internet, it’s understandable if you don’t want the government looking over your shoulder at everything you’re doing. One way you can attempt to bypass internet surveillance and censorship is through the use of a VPN like TunnelBear VPN. With TunnelBear VPN you can browse the internet as if you’re in another country. Get TunnelBear VPN and you can access all the blocked websites and browse the internet privately. TunnelBear VPN app is available for PC, Mac, iOS and Android devices. Google Chrome users can install TunnelBear VPN browser extension and get around all blocked websites.
A VPN will control what information a website and everyone else sees about you by acting as an encrypted tunnel between your computer and the site you’re accessing. It’s still not 100 percent guaranteed to get the government off your back, but it’s definitely a much safer method for viewing the internet! Make sure you know the local laws because the use of VPNs is illegal in some countries, but in most places, this is the best way to set up a buffer between yourself and the government so you can browse in peace and see all the sites you want to see.
We all want to trust that our governments are doing the right things to keep us safe, but it’s sometimes a bit hard to believe that all of their measures are necessary. If the government doesn’t own the internet, why should they be able to control what it is you can see on the internet or use the internet for? Shouldn’t you be trusted to make your own decisions? Although initially it may seem as if internet surveillance and censorship are a necessary evil for the greater good, but you should think again before offering up your internet freedom.