Friday, March 15, 2013

How Modern Technology Can Work Against Human Rights Issues

Although many people have praised modern technology as being essential in human rights issues of the day. There are also some drawbacks to these technologies. People cite the Arab Spring as the example of the successes and wonders of new communications media. Through social media sites many countries, including Libya, have planned organized rebellions against their governments and have succeeded. This type of mass organization of people is a powerful tool of rebellion and one that was not available in rebellions of the past. However, this powerful tool has not gone without notice to the repressive governments who fear that their people may try and follow the example of Libya Egypt and so many others. History has proven this to be true. The American Revolution sparked many other revolutions. The French revolution happened quickly after and most of Western Europe followed in the subsequent years. When a revolutionary idea of freedom arises, it spreads like wildfire that proves nearly impossible to extinguish. Therefore, an idea becomes the people’s greatest weapon and the government’s greatest fear. Unlike an army of soldiers, which can be stopped with a bullet or bomb, the stopping of an idea requires much more effort and craftsmanship. And for this reason, the Internet has become a powerful weapon for both the people and the government. The people may use the Internet and other modern communication methods to bring people together, but the government can also use the Internet to further oppress people. The oppressive governments can use the Internet as a weapon in many ways. In one way, they can restrict access of the Internet and TV. In China, for example, the government restricts which television programs are available to the people. By doing this, the people are under a forced ignorance. This means that they are ignorant of what is happening in certain parts of the world and in their own country but there is nothing they can do about it. In my opinion, this can be even worse than physical oppression because the people have no means of understanding what is happening to their fellow citizens or how things are different for the rest of the world. Therefore, they have no power to do anything about it. China is very good at monitoring the flow of information to their citizens and this is why the Chinese government has been so successful and has had surprisingly few rebellions in comparison to their human rights abuses. Another way the government can use these technologies as a weapon is by monitoring them. In the U.S. it is illegal for the government to monitor someone’s Internet activity, their phone calls, etc. However, in other countries, this is a main objective in the government for finding people who could be a potential threat to their regime.  The governments have caught on that with the aid of modern communications technology, subversive groups are much more dangerous than ever before. The human rights report confirms this belief that governments are becoming more and more aware of the effect of groups who are in disagreement with the government. Stating, “governments are becoming more restrictive in their tolerance of nongovernmental human rights organizations,”… “They’re trying to constrain their ability to register and to operate. They’re trying to constrain their ability to receive foreign funding. And that’s a trend that we see dramatically in the last several years. At least 25 governments have enacted new laws or regulations that restrict that.” This is a very dangerous trend as communications technology has proven to be essential to human rights issues in the past years.


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