Unless you have been hiding in a box for the past 5 to 10 years, you would have noticed the gradual increase in laws that are meant to stop cyber crime. However the general wording of those laws also allows the suppression of free speech. It is this infringement on voices that has people up in arms.
In general there are 3 big issues about the Internet that governments are taking notice about. Before when the Internet was born and HTML code was all done by hand, nobody seemed to care. There were only a few websites at first and for the most part no bells and whistles. All the fancy animation that is found in today’s Internet simply did not exist because all that code had not been written. Dial up internet service was the norm of the day.
The first issue of today is directly related to cyber crime, fraud, and hacking into secure systems. For the most part few people disagree with laws that are meant to stop this behavior. After all, you have a lock on the door of your home to keep people out, so the concept of security is accepted.
The second of late seems to be also on Copyright infringement where copies of music and other files like programs are protected. However Wikileaks does not actually fall under this. In actuality, Wikileaks is more like a paparazzi who managed to get some shots of the US government in compromising positions.
The third is now focused on malicious use of the Internet such as cyber stalkers who look to harm people by using false and malicious information to both emotionally and professionally damage their victims. Asian countries take this more to heart simply because damaging the face of a person is viewed as a much more serious crime than in the west. Countries like Thailand and China now have significant laws to deal with this. Western countries like Australia, The United Kingdom, and The United States also have significant new laws that focus intently on cyber stalkers, and in particular pedophiles who tend to hover in chat rooms frequented by adolescents.
The laws in Thailand have actually stepped past the borders of Thailand. Where a person in another country legally posted something on the Internet and was well within his rights. Then later when that person happened to visit Thailand he was arrested, convicted and jailed.
The problem is, the law makers want to make the laws do more and actually step on free speech. This is because nobody likes to be under a magnifying glass, particularly so if it could cost them votes in the next election cycle. A quick translation is politicians hate political correctness just as much as the rest of us. Unfortunately society puts them on a higher pedestal so they must comply. As for the rest of us, …. who cares as political correctness is an elective behavior that has now started to consume itself.
Potential freedom stripping laws have been shot down by the public’s revolt and have been challenged by rights groups and the watchful eye of free speech advocates. They watch for that covert freedom stripping language to be slipped into a bill, and send out the alarm when it is spotted. Fortunately many politicians have started to connect loss of votes with the thought of tampering with a person’s freedoms on the Internet. So in our view, the watchdogs who look for those freedom stripping bills are the heros of the Internet.
So in general the Internet is not the free playground it once was. And the trend seems to be governments want to control it one way or the other. But in reality the Internet is much like international waters, and it should stay that way as long as the people do not cause deliberate harm to others. You can’t make everyone happy, so moral and ethical guides should be the norm of cyberspace.