The right to offend, strip and shout

The issue of internet censorship is one that has long fascinated me.

It’s a subject, though, that defies easy definition. People in different countries view the question of governmental censorship very differently.

It’s a relief, therefore, to read the results of this new global study that finds almost universal support for an open and free web:

The Internet is a significant new medium for news, information, and ideas. As some governments have sought to regulate access to the Internet, it has also become a new arena for conflict about media freedom.

Presented the issue of Internet censorship, a majority in all but two of the countries that were asked this question said that “people should have the right to read whatever is on the Internet.” On average 62 percent endorsed full access, while 30 percent said that the government should have the right to “prevent people from having access to some things on the Internet.”

In China, a country whose Internet censorship policies have received a great deal of international attention, 71 percent of the public said that “people should have the right to read whatever is on the Internet;” only 21 percent of Chinese endorsed their government’s right to limit access.

The only two publics to not endorse full access were Jordan and Iran. In Jordan 63 percent supported government regulation of the Internet, as did 44 percent in Iran (32% favor unlimited access).

Authorities be warned.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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