Internet censorship is the control or suppression of what can be accessed, published, or viewed on the Internet enacted by regulators, or on their own initiative. Individuals and organizations may engage in self-censorship for moral, religious, or business reasons, to conform to societal norms, due to intimidation, or out of fear of legal or other consequences.
There are several motives or rationales for Internet filtering: politics and power, social norms and morals, and security concerns. Protecting existing economic interests is an additional emergent motive for Internet filtering. In addition, networking tools and applications that allow the sharing of information related to these motives are themselves subjected to filtering and blocking. And while there is considerable variation from country to country, the blocking of websites in a local language is roughly twice that of websites available only in English or other international languages.
Politics and power
Censorship directed at political opposition to the ruling government is common in authoritarian and repressive regimes. Some countries block websites related to religion and minority groups, often when these movements represent a threat to the ruling regimes.
Political blogs and websites
Lèse majesté sites, sites with content that offends the dignity of or challenges the authority of a reigning sovereign or of a state
Falun Gong and Tibetan exile group sites in China or Buddhist, Cao Dai faith, and indigenous hill tribes sites in Vietnam
Sites aimed at religious conversion from Islam to Christianity
Sites criticizing the government or an authority in the country
Sites that comment on minorities or LGBT issues
Social norms and morals
Social filtering is censorship of topics that are held to be antithetical to accepted societal norms. In particular censorship of child pornography and to protect children enjoys the very widespread public support and such content is subject to censorship and other restrictions in most countries.
Sites that include hate speech inciting racism, sexism, homophobia, or other forms of hatred
Sites saw as promoting illegal drug use
Sex and erotic, fetishism, prostitution, and pornographic sites
Child pornography and pedophile related sites
Sites encouraging or inciting violence
Sites promoting criminal activity
Sites that contain defamatory, slanderous, or libelous content
Sites that include political satire
Sites that contain information on social issues or “online protests, petitions, and campaigns”
Many organizations implement filtering as part of a defense in depth strategy to protect their environments from malware and to protect their reputations in the event of their networks being used, for example, to carry out sexual harassment.
Internet filtering related to threats to national security that targets the Web sites of insurgents, extremists, and terrorists often enjoys wide public support.
Blocking of pro–North Korean sites by South Korea
Blocking sites of groups that foment domestic conflict in India
Blocking of sites of the Muslim Brotherhood in some countries in the Middle East
Protection of existing economic interests and copyright
The protection of existing economic interests is sometimes the motivation for blocking new Internet services such as low-cost telephone services that use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). These services can reduce the customer base of telecommunications companies, many of which enjoy entrenched monopoly positions and some of which are government sponsored or controlled.
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