Aug 2011 – British Government Considered Social Media Ban in the aftermath of London riots March 2012 – Russia considering social media ban due to anti vladimir wave. April 2012 – China lays out web censorship plans. In addition to it, it introduced rules that seek to ensure that when people go online, they use their real names/identity.
The war is on. It’s us vs them. We the crusaders of social media, are in middle of, fight of our lives with the authorities who want to curb our fundamental right of expression. As days are passing by, the major threat to the freedom of the net comes from the governments across the globe, who are increasingly trying to control access and communication of their citizens.
The authorities have begun to realize the power of social media to organize people and start a mass movement . Experts insist that there is a massive conspiracy being planned to attack the freedom of the web and governments all over the world are united about it. The efforts to clamp down are not just restricted to china, Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, its happening in United States and India as well. Sergey Brin in his last interview to The Guardian said- very powerful forces have lined up against the open internet on all sides and around the world”. “I am more worried than I have been in the past,” he said. “It’s scary.”
Democratically elected leaders are not shying away from acting as autocrats the moment anything is written against them or their party. This intolerance is giving rise to such bans in the name of security, privacy national interest.
Recently, there was a case in India where in a university professor was arrested for sharing a cartoon of the state chief minister on the social networking site. The next thing she wanted was to ban the use of social media sites. There was a huge hue and cry in the online as well as traditional media circles. Better sense prevailed and professor was eventually let off.
The question is, why there is such a high intolerance to hear anything against you. It is your own people and they have the right to express their views which may not always be in accordance to your expectations.
Sergey Brin said five years ago he did not believe China or any country could effectively restrict the internet for long, but now says he has been proven wrong. “I thought there was no way to put the genie back in the bottle, but now it seems in certain areas the genie has been put back in the bottle,” he said
Those who know the inside story warn that – This war has multiple layers and is intensifying with each passing day. The battle for control of the internet is being fought across the globe between governments, companies, military strategists, activists and hackers
All this brings us to this question – What is needed to be done?
Simple, raise your voice with double the intensity every time you hear any such incident. It is the question of our fundamental rights and No One can be big enough to take it away from us.
All the bloggers should make it a routine to write against such posts. Social media users should be ever ready to spread such stories. The idea is to pressurize the authorities to refrain from taking such a stand.
We the social media warriors need to keep our fight alive for the freedom of the web. The government is acting like Xerxes:we need to act like spartans. No retreat. No surrender. This is the new social media law.
The world will know that few free men stood against few tyrants (the all mighty governments). That few stood against many (yeah, they don’t speak, but many favour censorship), and before this battle was over, they could make a god-king bleed. (that’s what we need to do, make them understand our strength, influence their policy making decision.)
Don’t wait. Start writing about the importance of freedom of speech. Support it. Spread it. Make it loud and clear that no one will be allowed to tamper with our fundamental rights.