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JLeslie's avatar

Should we censor the internet?

Asked by JLeslie (59833points) December 6th, 2015 from iPhone

I heard on TV how ISIS and other terrorist organizations use the internet to get their message out. Should we be shutting those sites down? Does free speech trump all?

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27 Answers

Mimishu1995's avatar

If we start censoring the sites, ISIS will just find other sites to do their job. Soon the whole internet will need to be censored. And that will affect other people who use the internet for neutral purposes like learning and such.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

So foreign policy of the US govt helped to create a group like ISIS, but we should trust the same government to censor the Internet? I don’t think so.
How about we start looking into the cause and effect of our foreign policy and stop taking away all these rights to “protect us?”
I highly recommend checking out the book about Nazi Germany called, “They Thought They Were Free.”

The shooters in CA were both less than 30 years old. We have been bombing at least 8 countries over the past 14 years. That means since these two people were 16, all they know if is the US bombing and occupying middle eastern countries. They became great recruitment targets for a group like ISIS and are probably somewhat easy to convince.
Just like it’s easy to convince an 18 year old here to join the military, because “look what them Arabs are doing to Americans and Christians.”

The fact that questions like yours even gets asked shows how lost we have become and how little we understand rights and freedom.
Instead of censoring the Internet, maybe we should be embracing it and using it to understand each other better and learn to communicate.
I have been a big fan of the live streaming app, Periscope, because many Muslims go on there and answer questions for people who misunderstand or are ignorant of their religion. We need more of this.

marinelife's avatar

Yes! No censoring the world’s greatest library.

elbanditoroso's avatar

If you start censoring one thing, what is to stop you from censoring something else that someone feels is dangerous next week?

Seek's avatar

Anonymous is already shutting down ISIS websites.

I actually feel better about vigilante justice on the internet than government interference.

JLeslie's avatar

@ragingloli Just wondering, do you agree with the laws in Germany that basically censor Nazi symbolism and other related things? You probably have commented on this on other Q’s, but I don’t remember your answer.

ragingloli's avatar

No, I do not.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

They are using game sites that allow messages between players. How are they going to censor all internet games ?

JLeslie's avatar

I’m not saying we should censor, I’m just asking.

@Tropical_Willie So, it’s more like private messaging an email? Not websites soliciting people?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I understand that IS is using several game sites, it is like a PM on Fluther, you have the box checked for “Private”.
There maybe a way to read it if you are a Mod but for general population there is not a way to read them.

marinelife's avatar

Hmm, my answer is confusing. The Yes was in answer to does free speech trump all.

jerv's avatar

Hmmm… ISIL wants to restrict flow of information by censorship… .so we try to hurt them by restricting information flow by censorship…

While I am normally opposed to “slippery slope” arguments, I think I have enough historical precedent here to at least entertain arguments such as, “Where do we stop?”.

cazzie's avatar

They say that ISIS members are actually using XBox online gaming to talk to each other. We live in a very techno driven age.

But, no, I don’t believe in government agencies determining what is on the internet. I DO believe there should be tools available for the consumer to edit what comes into their own homes, though. Like Net-nanny programs, ad blockers etc.

jerv's avatar

@cazzie Given the conduct of some of my fellow online gamers, or more precisely what they get away with, it makes sense that ISIS would use something like XBox Live. I mean, talk about unmonitored channels!

On a related note, there is a lot of call for banning strong crypto in an attempt to monitor terrorist communications. Before any of you think about why that is anything other than bad and stupid and wrong, you might want to look into the effects that strong crypto has. The following people should oppose any and all measures at banning crypto include but are not limited to;

1) Anyone with a bank account, credit card, or other financial records (including taxpayers)
2) Anybody with a medical record
3) Anyone with any form of insurance
4) Anyone with a state-issued ID card
5) Anyone who is registered to vote
6) Anyone working in an industry that has any trade secrets
7) Anyone working a field that deals with information protected by privilege (i.e. lawyers, dentists, nurses…)

Just those groups alone cover a large enough percentage of the population that anything that threatens the security of their information the way allowing it to be read by anyone with a Radio Orphan Annie‚Äôs Secret Society decoder ring would could be said to affect practically everybody, even if they don’t realize it.

Now, how many of you are willing to take all of that information and put it up on Facebook? How many of you ware willing to let the entire world know about that “mysterious” charge on your credit card that you’ve been trying to hide from your spouse (even innocent ones like their Christmas gift)? What is your checking account number and password? How about some pics of that embarrassing rash you finally mustered the courage to talk to a doctor about? If you have even a fraction of a second hesitation to do all that and more, then you want strong crypto. And if you think that use losing the security it offers will deprive terrorists of it, then you don’t know the true origins of cryptography in the first place.

ragingloli's avatar

Those who propose things like omnipresent surveillance, data collection, and banning encryption, do not give a flying toss about preventing terrorist attacks.
Terrorism is just a convenient pretense.
What they are really after is knowing every piece of dirt of any average citizen, so they can destroy him/her if one day he decides to actually oppose those in power.

jerv's avatar

@ragingloli Pretty much.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar


Also think about being able to use algorithms and supercomputers to influence and entire society by having access to that much information.
This is spelt out in the Input/output section of the chapter “Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars,” from Behold A Pale Horse.

DT's avatar

Censoring all the internet is impossible, but there are other options, as blocking the access to American websites from particular countries (for security reasons). That will help to limit information flow about our citizens and will give us extra safety (at least on the internet)

ragingloli's avatar

Because it is so hard to use a proxy.

cazzie's avatar

@ragingloli exactly. using a proxy is kids stuff. @DT ‘blocking’ idea is tissue paper left out in the rain.

Seek's avatar

It’s cute when people who don’t know how the internet works talk about internet security.

JLeslie's avatar

We do censor child porn don’t we? It’s not like censoring is nonexistent. Some things are illegal on the web, aren’t they?

cazzie's avatar

Yes, @Seek. it is awfully cute.

Seek's avatar

@JLeslie – there are laws against the creation and distribution of child porn in the US, yes. However, those laws don’t apply outside the US, and there are no internet police running around confiscating NotQuiteLegalDotCom and shutting down the server farm in Bumfuck, Siberia where it’s hosted.

jerv's avatar

@Seek It’s cute until you realize that those who make the laws are just as tech-illiterate; than it’s fucking scary!

@JLeslie Child pornography breaks all sorts of laws that are irrelevant to the internet. As far as the law is concerned, a hard drive full of internet pictures is the same as a shoebox full of Polaroids.

As @Seek points out though, the problem there is jurisdiction. The internet is not a physical/geographical location, but our minds cannot grasp that concept and thus considers sites to be from the nation that their main server is in. That leads to all sorts of shell games, as well as a cyberwar arms race. Suffice it to say that the lack of international consensus on what can/cannot be said poses some interesting questions.

Now, do you wish to scour the internet and remove EVERY picture of a woman that shows even the slightest bit of skin (even eyes without veils)? There are some who do. Hell, one could argue that the fact that most of us here are more Liberal than Ted Cruz makes Fluther a hotbed of sedition and treason, so either you want Fluther to risk being censored out of existence, or you must tolerate some distasteful things.

Or not. See, as normal citizens, you and I have zero say in what the laws will be. At best, we literally cannot afford that right. Even if the general populace was educated on the issue, the power still belongs to those who don’t have to abide by the laws they make anyways. So I expect some pretty stupid shit to happen with regards to the internet regardless of what the people say about it. Why? Because I look at things like the TPP and get deja vu; there is too much precedent for me to not by a bit cynical.

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