Choose one ethical issue arising from the use of Social Networks (like Facebook, Twitter, etc.) that has been reported in the press in last two years, and discuss it in depth. Show why or how the technology creates or contributes to the problem. Produce an article, discussing both sides of the issue (pros and cons) drawing on both technical and philosophical literature. In addition, argue for your own view of the matter, giving your reasons for your point of view and showing why you believe that they are better than opposing views.
The world today has been working on rules and laws for making everything structured and safe. With over 400 million users, Facebook has a lot of responsibility for having rules and regulations which should be followed. Similar social networks have become a band of wagon thing in the last couple of years. It is a new thing which appeals to all and it is estimated that over 47% of the adult internet users have profiles on one or the other social networking websites. With such large number of users and the information shared which these sites allow sharing, there is an increased possibility of the privacy of customers getting compromised. There have been large number of legal cases like defamation, copyright infringement, etc. over the last few years. It has led to stronger call for having stringent norms which can help in regulating the kinds of mechanisms are in place for protecting the interest of the online visitors.
Internet Content Regulation
Internet is a huge pool of data which is valuable and is accessed every day by millions of users across the world. These users are from all works of lives which includes governmental organizations, private users, etc. However, in the last couple of years the need and the section for censoring the internet has drastically increased. The acts like Stop Only Piracy Act (SOPA), and Protect IP Act (PIPA) are a couple of acts which were brought forward in the year 2012. There are many who believe that there is no need of regulating the kind of content online, but with increased security concerns and privacy intrusions, the need for regulating the contents and protecting data online is at its peak (LAW 2009). Below we try to analyze the different reasons as why it is important to have Internet Content Regulation. We also analyze the beliefs which propose the idea of not regulating Internet by any degree.
Pros of Internet Content Regulation
- Terrorism: Internet serves as a platform which is widely used by terror outfits to contact each other. They even use it to manipulate and cause damage to well-known websites online. The term cyber terrorism has been quite discussed where privacy and hacking of highly confidential information online has been a concerns across the world. Therefore, when internet is regulated, it would offer ways for controlling and hence minimizing the threats which the Internet causes due to the activities of the terrorists. It would further mean that there is a stop over the contents and activities which are linked with the social unrest, as well as racial hatred among men and women.
- Pornography: This industry has been booming and there is no limitation of the kind of content which is being featured online, that too for free. Child Pornography has emerged as a great concern where there are people who seem to be mentally sick who come up with unwanted contents related to child pornography. Authorities have been trying to take measures and ban as well as trace these websites through public viewing. However, the major problem is that it could be viewed from a vast number of streaming porn sites which offer highly objectionable content for free. Hence, a proper regulation of the kind of contents being uploaded is critical here.
- Human Trafficking: Abuse of women as well as young children when it relates to human trafficking has seen a surge and is a shocking realism which the world faces today. There is no form of regulation which protects these kind of acts of violation as well as abuse online. Once it gets regulated, it would help in keeping a check of such activities and hence reducing it drastically and catching the culprits easily.
- Fraud as well as defamatory activities: There have been a large number of occurrences where fraud as well as defamatory activities have spread like a fire and affected businesses as well as individuals online. Once a proper regulation is in place, it would ensure that people are protected against any kind of such activities.
- Piracy: Online piracy has been a great issue which experts have been trying to counter. It is an activity through which free material is available without any authority and leading to effecting the owners and producers financially. Once these websites are banned or restricted, it would enable to steer the customers for buying products as well as services instead of getting them for free.
- Email Spamming: There are several instances where malware gets sent frequently to inbox of people and mostly due to email spamming. With Internet Content Regulation, email spamming would be put to a hold and would help in curbing the fraudulent ways in which people try to access personal information such as bank account numbers and other confidential information. Usually spammers tend to illegally use the information collected to cause damage to the individuals.
- Plagiarism: Plagiarism of copyright materials would be also stopped when proper regulation mechanism are in place. There are numerous illegal portals which use contents of the companies which publish their original work without giving any kind of credit to the source.
Cons of Internet Content Regulation
- Restricts flow of information: With highly regulated environment there would be a direct restriction of the flow of information along with its exchange levels. It would lead to suppression of people from being communicative as well as expressive. It hence would change the entire scenario and way in which information has been dealt with over the years.
- Information would be withheld: Regulation means that there is a possibility of information being withheld from the normal public and being freely available. The information which is available at the moment is invaluable. With a policy or an act in regulation would mean that it could lead to end of the internet to the way it has been till today.
- Better cover up: With regulations in place, the people who are indulged in abuse as well as illicit activities would be forced to cover their tracks in a better manner and hide (UCDAVIS 2003).
- Increased use of proxy servers: Proxy servers and sites are freely available when certain sites are not accessible or blocked in a country or premises. Proxy servers would increase in numbers and fool the system to believe that a person is from another country by using a fake IP address which allows people to access information by use of a particular kind of a software.
Internet is a big powerhouse of information as well as visual content which are used for a range of purposes. Using these ways which aren’t acceptable is what makes officials and users on the edge. This forces them to come up with certain policies and acts which are there to create a frenzy. One of the worst elements of regulation is that there is no limitation to the level of tampering or the ways of intruding the existing policies. Even the moment people come up with regulations and protection mechanisms, there is a certain segment of people who find ways to tackle them and break the security. Thus Internet Content Regulation is an ongoing process which needs to be updated off and on.
LAW 2009, The Future of Internet Regulation.
UCDAVIS 2003, International and National Regulation of the Internet.