Freedom of the Internet

“The spreading of information networks is forming a new nervous system for our planet” (Clinton). The Internet has taken the world by storm, giving endless capabilities to many. While most embrace the Internet with open arms, the government is uncomfortable with its unlimited amount of information. The government now believes it is necessary to censor the World Wide Web.

As U.S. citizens, we are guaranteed the right to press, speech, and privacy in the Constitution. If the government were to censor the Internet, our rights would be lost. The Internet is used as a resource for news sites, blogging, activism, and many other social outlets. While our leaders may not like or agree with the information published online, people are allowed by law to express themselves.

“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter” (Washington). Freedom of speech, created by our first leaders, allows people to express themselves openly. Internet censorship would be denying the people their right to speak freely. If laws were passed, our voice would be taken away, going against one of the main reasons we became a country.

Just as speech is important to Americans, freedom of privacy is also. The Constitution states that citizens have the right to enjoy privacy in forms that do not violate the rights of others. Censoring the Internet means filtering websites and gaining information on the creators and those that use the site, thus violating the rights of others and infringing their right to privacy.

“The Internet has boosted productivity and has been one of the key factors in sustaining growth” (CNN). With the development of the Internet, many jobs have been moved online. Numerous employees online would be jobless if websites they work for were censored, no longer needing their services, causing unemployment to rise, and the economy to nosedive. Besides jobs, the Internet is a source of income. While feminists, gun control advocates, and many other activists are uncomfortable with the profits made online on explicit and dangerous websites from pornography, guns auctions, etc., it is still a source of money. This source of money allows people to have a comfortable life, and most importantly to pay the government taxes. If the government wiped out websites bringing in these profits, it would no longer be receiving taxes from those people, causing cancellation to many programs it runs, and the economy and quality of life of Americans to diminish.

In addition to the American economy being affected, the global economy would be also. The Internet allows all countries to benefit from business transactions made across the world at any time each country receives the necessary taxes, and their economies remain stable. However, Internet censorship could lead to the destruction of global transactions. When business between countries is gone, each country’s economy would gradually decline, leading to the crippling of the interacting countries' economies with the world’s economy in shambles; there would be inflation, panics, and finally a huge depression. Government censorship would lead to a large domino effect of the economy, resulting in the lives of many being ruined.

While Americans’ rights and the economy are important reasons against censorship, government spending would have the most impact on the impact. Our government needs funds to run all of its programs ranging from Medicare to the military. The National Intelligence Community that would be in charge of censorship already requested $48.2 billion for the National Intelligence Program for 2014 (Aftergood). Censorship if approved would substantially increase the budget. A benefit is hiring more workers to run all the necessary programs. While hiring more government employees would lead to more jobs, it would also mean there would need to be more money to pay the employees.

In addition, money would have to be obtained for the use of the filters needed to censor the websites. Normal computer filters alone can cost up to $300 each (Microsoft). Filters needed to censor the endlessly updating Internet would cost billions because of the large amounts software needed to continuously censor (BBC).

Finally, it would take an infinite amount of time to search the 2.5 quintillion and growing bytes of data (The Economist). Franklin once stated, “Time is money” (Franklin). The more time it takes to do something, the more money required to make it happen. Same can be said with censorship. More time put into trying to censor Internet means more money wasted by the government. All of the components needed to censor require large amounts of money. Almost all funding would have to come from raising taxes, leading to a further deepened economic depression.

There are those out there who believe that Internet censorship is the path the government should take. They believe this would lead ending security problems. Their argument is the development of the Internet has led to the emergence of hackers who hack everything from email accounts to the Central Intelligence Agency. Some would say actions taken by these groups could be prevented. The reality is, even if the Internet was censored, hackers would find a way around the system to get to the information and websites they are targeting.

Another reason why some argue for censorship is the possibility people could find secret government documents and release them to the public. Our government keeps many documents online in secure archives. If somehow this information was hacked and leaked to the public, our officials believe there would be mass chaos. However, if the information was already available to the public, there would be no need to censor the Internet because no one would panic.

One of the largest arguments concerns terrorists. Federal investigators believe much of the information terrorists need for their various activities is gained through information on the Internet. Online terrorists can find maps, blueprints, addresses, etc. to help them accomplish their missions. While it is a tragedy information from the Internet is being used the help terrorists, censorship is unnecessary. Terrorists were attacking before the Internet was invented. Even if certain websites and information were censored, they would still end up finding the information they require for their attacks. It is meaningless to punish the American public for the actions taken by the small percentage of extremists in the world.

The Internet has become a part of society. What is on it is up to the people, not the government. Our founding fathers worked very hard for us to have the freedom of speech, privacy, and press. Censorship would be an insult to their legacy. We have also learned over time through the guidance of our former leaders, that the economy runs the lives of Americans. With the jobs, sources of income, and business transactions made through the Internet, censorship would lead to the downfall of the economy. With the economy in a bad state, everyone’s lives would drastically change. Others say national security is more important than allowing an open Internet. However, there will always be security problems because there are people out there who distrust and hate our government. It is pointless to let the problems of a few people ruin the lives of many. Our country is at a point in time where it depends on the Internet. To censor it would cripple our sense of freedom. Without total personal liberties, we are no longer a free body of people. In order to remain the envisioned United States of America that our founding fathers dreamed of, we need freedom of Internet.

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