What is Internet Censorship?

Internet censorship prevents users from creating or viewing specific online content and can be done by governments, companies, schools and even home users. Some examples of content that may be censored include material that deals with pornography, graphic violence, terrorism, and political concepts not accepted by a specific region or government. Some reasons for Internet censorship seek to protect users, such as censoring inappropriate content in an environment with children; other censors may have malicious intent. There are also several methods that can be used to block inappropriate material and some are more effective than others.

One reason for internet censorship is to prevent children from viewing inappropriate content.

Every government, company, school and individual may have a different reason for using online censorship. Governments can block websites that display material that is illegal in a specific country or websites that discuss undesirable political views. Companies can block websites that employees can use to waste company time, including social media, instant messaging and online gaming sites. Schools can block students from sites that students can use to waste time, but they can also protect children from viewing content containing pornography and violence. Home users can use blocking software to prevent the use of a list of specific websites or entire categories of websites.

Various technical methods can be used for Internet censorship, from blocking an individual user’s Internet Protocol (IP) address to disconnecting any physical router that provides access to the material. IP blocking, Domain Name System (DNS) filtering, and packet filtering are considered partial censorship methods because there is a chance that users will bypass the block. For example, proxy servers are useful for bypassing most of these partial filtering techniques and reducing the security of these internet censorship tools. The full block method involves disconnecting routers so that no one in the area can bypass the block. Some governments use the full block method because of its reliability.

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Internet censorship is a controversial subject and has many supporters and opponents. Those who support Internet censorship argue that it protects citizens from harmful materials and can prevent political unrest in some areas. Supporters often emphasize the importance of blocking illegal pornographic material from children and adults as a good reason to censor content online. Opponents of internet censorship argue that it takes away the right to free speech, that governments can use the tool to prevent citizens from knowing important information, and that some can abuse its power.

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