Undeniably, there has been a trend to instore measures of, bluntly put, censorship, against extremist Internet content, in the past few years. Worldwide, this trend, which could be understood as a reaction to globalization, is unlikely to cease.
In the US and elsewhere in the West, there has been staunch opposition by conservative groups, heralding the right to free speech, while Democrats have been more likely to support censorship against extremism. Interestingly enough, in stricter environments, censorship has been the norm for years.
There is a downside to the application of public-private censorship agreements and state-defined upload filters. Once the technical means are in place, there is a certain likelihood that cases of excess and abuse might occur. That is why rules and accountability are of the essence.
In authoritarian settings, accountability standards are somewhat complicated to grasp, for a lack of transparency. There is a common denominator: good governance. This principle, however, differs in understanding, from place to place.
What we need in countries all over the world are standards, and not just basic ones. We also need close, ethically-driven supervision, to prevent local, arbitrary use of the powers of censorship.
Thorsten Koch, MA, PgDip
29 July 2020
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