Thursday, October 24, 2013

Government Regulation and Monitoring of Citizen Internet Activity

As Internet usage has increased and become more widespread, the accessibility of information has increased as well. Although this can yield positive results, it can also have a negative influence on its audience, especially when the information is false or designed to instigate conflict. For example, many were killed in Muzaffarnagar last month during riots brought about by a controversial religious video spread through social media.

This event, in addition to many other Internet-related movements and controversies, has resulted in an increase in government surveillance and regulation of Internet content. However, increased government supervision of the Internet is cause enough for controversy given its arguable infringement of rights. For countries such as the United States that boast its citizens’ rights to free speech and privacy, these actions are concerning to some, but deemed necessary by others.

The Indian government has taken a similar course of action by increasing its surveillance of citizens’ Internet usage and requesting their personal information, actions which they claim are “motivated by threats to national security or law and order.” The vague reasoning behind this government’s increased surveillance minimizes citizen input and arguably allows the government too much control over Internet content. Additionally, the laws of Internet regulation remain extremely vague and cite no specific authority allowed to monitor content. This results in multiple firms with access to the personal information of citizens and the ability to mange information on the Internet.

I would interpret this censorship and supervision to be a violation of privacy and speech rights, which is why I think there should be more citizen input into the government monitoring of the Internet. There is also a need for clear guidelines to be followed by the governing authorities.

Marilyn Miller

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