The Internet: A Shrinking Haven of Free Speech?

The internet, the worlds greatest haven of free information. It has for decades been a way in which people can connect, share ideas and innovations, and simply enjoy free time. Many of these aspects today remain, but there is an ever increasing threat to the safety and freedom of our rights not only online, but off as well. Many social networking sites continue to press and drill for our personal information, Government agencies track and monitor personal communications of American citizens, and day by day we deal with the every present threats of digital attack. Its the wild west out there along the internet highway. Information about individuals is often auctioned off to the highest bidder in an effort to garner a profitable idea of who you are and what companies can sell to you, but this is hardly the most egregious assault currently in action. Wireless network providers can stifle and bottleneck access and speed to sites they do not currently have contract deals with (now made legal with some legislature sneakily signed in last year), oppressive governments vying for access to social site and people phones so that they can completely bar access to content they feel threatened by (perfectly demonstrated with the current European media censorship of any and all content demonstrating anti-immigrant sentiment in countries like Germany), and media and internet access companies actively trying to control or limit what information you have access to or ever share within the bounds of their programs/websites; the internet certainly has no lack of troubles to deal with.

Now of course, these are simply a few examples of issues that are largely in the minority at the moment, but their rapid growth these past few years is a chilling sight indeed. The internet itself was built on the principles of freedom of information, a system founded by multiple outlets and individuals all working together across a digital medium to share ideas and content, this is the heart of communication. So one might ask, what is it I can do to help ensure that our rights as human beings, entitled to certain personal security even on the internet, are not threatened or abolished entirely? The answer is actually articulated simply enough, be informed, be active. Pay attention to the questions in the User agreements for every change facebook makes conscerning your private information, read up on and actively participate in the political systems of your Government, as many of the laws and acts being passed can directly limit and oppress the freedom of speech and the availability of information across the Web. Learn the rights you have even while online and spread that knowledge to others around you. You’ll find that simply acknowledging a problem is often the first step to solving it, and the internet is our final safe haven of true freedom. If we aren’t careful though, this information highway may be shutdown for good.

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