censorship vs. privacy

Privacy and censorship have become two terms which could very well define this generation. Part of this has to do with the internet, a relatively new technology that is now accessible to billions of people across the globe. It is inevitable that as more people shop, socialize, entertain and post content on the web, issues of privacy and censorship will arise that will require discussion and policy.

What Is Censorship?

Censorship is an act which involves preventing information from reaching the public. Examples include passing laws which make it illegal to criticize a ruling regime (common in authoritarian or totalitarian countries), or preventing a journalist from running a story which would expose information about an organization that it prefers to keep private. On the internet, censorship not only involves attempts to prevent users from seeing, reading or hearing certain content, but deleting it where possible.

What Is Privacy?

Privacy is the condition in which an individual is not bothered or observed by others. It is the ability to keep your information from prying eyes, and to determine how and when personal information will be revealed. Privacy comes in four types, which is disposition, physical, decision and informational. Usage of the internet raises the question of what info can be shared with others, and what should be kept private.

Why Censorship And Privacy Have Become So Important

On the one hand, you have governments and big corporations that want to know as much about citizens and consumers as possible. While there are laws in many Democratic societies which in theory protect citizens from unwarranted surveillance, many governments and their intelligence agencies flagrantly disregard them, often citing concerns of terrorism as their justification. Corporations instinctively understand that the more they know about their customers, the better they can sell to them, which increases their profits.

On the other hand, both governments and corporations do everything they can to censor and keep citizens and consumers in the dark about their own activities. Privacy advocates frequently point out that while these institutions ironically value their own privacy and ruthlessly guard their own secrets, they are aggressive in learning as much about everyone else as possible. Former NSA employee Edward Snowden made this abundantly clear when he went public and released information in 2013 which revealed extensive international surveillance programs being conducted by both the American government and other agencies.

How Will All This Play Out?

While it isn’t possible to reliably predict the future, it seems that battle lines are being draw between those that value their privacy and those that don’t. On one side you have consumers, human rights and privacy advocates, and on the other side you have governments and multinational corporations. The use of proxy servers and other techniques to hide IP addresses and online identities have exploded within just the last two years. As governments and companies try harder to learn more about citizens, they have responded by increasing their efforts to maintain their privacy and anonymity.