by Analytics Insight
13 August 2021
At this point in time, internet access should basically be considered a human right. The Internet creates unlimited access to communication, information and entertainment. The Internet is also useful for ensuring that social movements can thrive, governments can be called, and grassroots organizations can develop.
While many of us would like to think that the Internet is accessible to all freely and fairly, this is not always the case. Too often in recent years, the world has experienced horrific situations where internet access has been cut off, especially where oppressive governments have been involved.
Internet is limited
One of the greatest tools of oppression and dictatorship is the suppression of free speech and in the 21st century, part of the restriction of free speech includes restricting internet access. China, for example, has a large firewall through which citizens are closely monitored by the state and many have expressed that certain websites are blocked in China while public criticism of the government on the internet is also severely punished.
A recent example of internet censorship was in Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria blocked Twitter earlier this year. The official reason given by the government was that Twitter was being used as a tool to threaten national unity. However, many point to the #EndSARS 2020 protests that called for police brutality and government cooperation in systemic repression.
Many protests during that time were funded and organized through social media platforms like Twitter and it is believed that the government wants to strike at this free speech and the power of organized freedom campaigns. Some African countries like e.g. Uganda are known to have completely shut down the internet during elections, often to avoid criticism of electoral fraud and corruption.
These incidents have seen an increase in the use of virtual private networks (or VPNs) by Nigerians to overcome the ban on Twitter – VPNs and privacy network tools are often used by people in countries with repressive leaders to make their voices heard.
The need to overcome censorship
However, VPNs are not complete evidence, as VPN providers also require permission to operate within a given location – if VPN providers themselves are compromised or restricted, this temporary relief from censorship will to be removed.
Many see decentralized internet as the next step in the evolution of web use and essentially a fully proven way to ensure that everyone has the same level of internet access globally — where a resident of a country can visit the same public websites as another country, no matter what government is in power. An example of a project that builds a decentralized internet solution is MASQ which provides the benefits of Tor technology and a VPN in a single software solution. MASQ’s mission is to ensure internet freedom for all while providing cryptocurrency rewards for those who support the network using it.
A privacy-based ecosystem is more needed than ever in these modern times, and this will ensure that there is no particular internet control. Those users who use a solution like MASQ can enjoy the freedom of internet privacy to browse as desired. The Internet is such an important part of our lives, and there is a need to protect it from repression and censorship while still allowing people their privacy to access global content.
For journalists who want to publish content that may criticize the government but fear they will be arrested or harmed as a result, internet freedom must be protected. These kinds of solutions are also extremely important for organizing grassroots movements and even simply for the fundamental human right to freedom of expression – the future is digital and the internet is at the heart of the digital space. This need is therefore more important than ever, and moving forward it seems that decentralized internet is the key.
Luke Fitzpatrick is published in Forbes, Yahoo! News, and influential. He is also a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney, lecturing in Intercultural Management and the Pre-MBA Program.
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