The internet is accessible to everyone until it is no more
At this point, internet access should essentially be considered a human right. The internet provides limitless access to communication, information and entertainment. The internet is also vital in ensuring that social movements can progress, governments can be summoned and grassroots organizations can take place.
While many of us would like to think that the Internet is freely and fairly accessible to everyone, this is not always the case. Far too often, in recent years, the world has faced plight of Internet access being cut off, especially involving oppressive governments.
One of the greatest tools of oppression and dictatorship is the suffocation of free speech, and in the 21st century, part of restricting free speech involves restricting access to the Internet. For example, China has a great firewall putting citizens under heavy state control and many have stated that certain websites in China are blocked, while public criticism of the government over the internet is also severely punished.
A recent example of internet censorship was in Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, which: blocked Twitter earlier this year. The official reason given by the government was that Twitter was being used as a means of threatening national unity. However, many point to the 2020 #EndSARS protests that denounced police brutality and government complicity in systemic oppression.
Many protests at that time were crowdfunded and organized through social media platforms such as Twitter and it is believed that the government wants to counter this freedom of expression and the power of organized freedom campaigns. Several African countries such as Uganda they are known to shut down the internet completely during elections, often to avoid criticism of election fraud and corruption.
These incidents have led to an increase in the use of virtual private networks (or VPNs) by Nigerians to circumvent the Twitter ban – VPN and privacy networking tools are often used by people in countries with oppressive leaders to make their voices heard.
The need to overcome censorship
VPNs aren’t full proof though, as even the VPN’s providers require permission to operate within a particular country – if the VPN providers themselves are compromised or restricted, this temporary exemption from censorship is taken away.
Many see decentralized internet as the next step in the evolution of internet usage and essentially a completely secure way to ensure that everyone worldwide has the same level of access to the internet – where a resident of one country can visit the same public websites as another country, regardless of which government is in power. An example of a project for building a decentralized internet solution is: MASQ that offers the benefits of Tor technology and a VPN in one software solution. MASQ’s mission is to provide internet freedom for everyone while also providing cryptocurrency rewards for those who support the network by using it.
A privacy-based ecosystem is needed more than ever in these modern times, and this will ensure that there is no single control over the Internet. Those users who use a solution like MASQ can enjoy the freedom of privacy online to browse as they want. The internet is such an important part of our lives and it is necessary to protect it from oppressive action and censorship while still allowing people their privacy to access global content.
For journalists who want to publish content that could criticize the government, but fear being arrested or harmed as a result, the freedom of the internet must be protected. These kinds of solutions are also extremely important for the organization of grassroots movements and even simply for the basic human right to freedom of expression – the future is digital and the internet is at the center of the digital space. Therefore, this need is more important than ever before, and in the future it seems that the decentralized Internet is the key.
Luke Fitzpatrick has been published in Forbes, Yahoo! News and Influential. He is also a visiting lecturer at the University of Sydney, where he teaches Cross-Cultural Management and the Pre-MBA program.
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