By Alex Cardenas |Staff Writer|
An open Internet is necessary to allow a web where people can easily communicate information without third party interference, and keep governments and established businesses from using the Internet for their own interests.
Since Oct. 10, the Venezuelan government has denied their citizens access to the Internet news site Infobae.
The site was blocked after posting pictures of a deceased Venezuelan government official that was fatally stabbed.
As a counter move, Infobae recently introduced a number of unblocked domains which would allow Venezuelan citizens to access the news website.
This event is an example of the struggle between government censorship and the public’s right to the availability of information.
As the Arab Spring showed the world in 2010, the Internet is one of the most powerful weapons that the public can use to protect themselves from government powers that would otherwise be impossible to defeat.
The Arab Spring was a flux of revolutionary demonstrations and protests, which ultimately led to the expulsion of rulers from Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen.
One of the greatest tools of Arab resistance was an effective social media campaign that helped citizens organize rallies and raise worldwide awareness in the face of repressive governments.
Because of the Internet’s potential as a tool against corrupt governments, it is up to the public to ensure that everything is done to keep the Internet out of government’s control.
Issues of Internet censorship exist within the United States as well. In 2011, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was introduced in Congress with the intent of giving the government power to ban webpages that provide content or source links to material which is under copyright.
Many popular sites are user generated and often contain copyrighted content, because of this, thousands of popular sites including Google, YouTube and Facebook would become subject to government control.
On Jan. 18, 2012, millions of Internet users participated in the largest protest in Internet history and sent over four million e-mails, 8 million calls, and 10 million petitions to Congress, according to sopastrike.com.
This internet protest demanded “net neutrality,” a term coined by law professor Tim Wu in 2003, for the principle that Internet service providers should treat all Internet data equally to maintain an open Internet access.
After multiple failed attempts to pass this bill, the House decided to postpone any consideration of bringing it up for a vote again.
It is our social responsibility to protect our freedoms and rights to access content on the Internet without government or corporate intrusion.