"The Internet treats censorship as a malfunction and routes around it."
–John Perry Barlow
On January 6, 1941, President Roosevelt delivered a speech to the 77th United States Congress where he proposed his four freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from fear, and freedom from want, his own extended version of the guarantees in the US Constitution. In most western countries, the youth are afforded an opportunity of free (though taxpayer funded) education. It is a liberty that does not happen everywhere, even today. Human curiosity, however, has proved a strong force in the realm of education, and the human desire to acquire knowledge has sparked many endeavors of sound inquiry. However, in many places around the world today we find this inquiry impeded, prohibited, or otherwise relegated to a status of taboo. Instead, we find that many governments allow this inquiry only when suitable with their political agenda.
One is reminded of the famous French writer Francois Marie, also attributed to the penname "Voltaire", who wrote, "I may not agree with what you say, but to your death I will defend your right to say it". As defined by Webster, censorship is "to examine in order to suppress" or "delete anything considered objectionable" (© 2006-2007 Merriam-Webster, Inc). What's worse is that several major US companies are aiding foreign governments in doing so. Microsoft bowed to Communist demands in censoring its users, Yahoo helped Communist officials catch journalists who were subsequently jailed for writing, Cisco has given hardware and training which China promptly exported to other governments wishing to constrain citizens seeking information. This gives governments of like mind one more excuse to suppress, arrest, and otherwise censor dissent, instilling fear into the general population.
But can we hold businesses accountable for doing their job? After all, they are ultimately beholden to shareholders, not principle. Which begs the question: are they really benefiting themselves when they do so?
There is an interesting theory that might well be considered by security specialists and government scientists alike: the embarrassing security flaws of Microsoft products are due to its shutting down of Chinese blogs due to government demands; the defacing of Yahoo!'s website a few years back was due to its voluntary screening of content seen by the Communist Chinese. One might argue the hacking/cracking phenomenon is even part of the modern (though quite unknown) Jeffersonian movement, supporting any speech, so long as it does not directly endanger others (i.e. shouting fire in a crowded theatre), as the lack of security and scramble for encryption can suitably testify.
As James Madison once put it, "There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." From a western perspective, in the free market of ideas, the good ones stay, and the bad ones fade, naturally. There is no regulation needed. Projects like FreeNet and other anonymous networks of information sharing have cropped up and are here to stay, proving once again that the internet is vast, decentralized, and impossible to regulate.
Hacker attacks have sprung up more and more after the second rising of the internet after the dot com crash, a period where more and more countries are throwing their hat into the authoritarian ring. It would logically follow that hacking(or, more accurately, "cracking"), which creates a general insecurity everywhere, causes billions in revenue each year, and keeps the average person from using the internet for such things as online banking, is a result of a looming government presence, both perceived and existent, domestic and foreign, neither of which will affect the average American much, but more than enough for both the black-hat and gray-hat hacker alike to join the cause.
As a sidenote, we must recognize that there are legitimate uses of censorship software, if implemented by the user, for the user, and at the user level. Anything further is a violation of human liberty established in, for example, the American Constitution and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Schools in particular have attempted, to varying degrees of success, to filter objectionable content. However, this type of censorship should be strictly limited to usage by an end authoritative body (the school) over whom they have been delegated authority (parents delegate schools power over the students).
Internet Giants Criticised for Aiding Censorship