As governments across the world continue to make moves towards increased internet censorship, there is a rising concern over the suppression of information and freedom. Can blockchain technology provide a solution?
Governments have attempted to control information and manipulate ideas for nearly as long as the internet has existed.
Internet censorship has varied from country to country. Most democratic countries have moderate censorship, which is based on well-intentioned desires — like protecting children from unsuitable content or blocking hateful and violent content.
More authoritarian states very deliberately control and manage citizens’ access to information and suppress discussion and debate.
Political Motivations for Internet Censorship
The common motive behind censoring the internet is often political and is usually disguised as a well-intentioned measure. By controlling the internet, ruling parties can monitor online communications, undermine opposition leaders, and quell any sign of activism. Governments are then able to extend a greater hold over what people say, do, and how they vote.
With over four billion people now using the internet, the fact that accessing it has become more restricted would seem counter-intuitive. Yet, internet censorship remains on the rise. Figures show that 34 percent of countries around the world don’t allow for free access to the internet. States like Turkey, Nigeria, Vietnam, and China continuously engage in restrictive zoning of their citizen’s internet access.
Can Blockchain Technology Save The Free Internet?
Blockchain solutions could be one of the answers for those wanting more freedom on the internet.
Blockchain and the crypto community are breaking the established norms, offering people the possibility to express themselves, associate, and interact as they please. This was also the original intent of the world wide web — although, with its rise to mainstream adoption, its suppression has also become vital to many nation states.
At the heart of the cryptocurrency community is a belief in political decentralization — the belief that information on the internet should be accessible by all and in the control of users. One of the main features of blockchain technology is its ability to resist censorship and operate in trustless environments.
Resistance to internet censorship via cryptographic and distributed systems comes through censorship-resistant transactions. There is no way to rewrite a blockchain’s history.
Decentralized Systems Have No Central Switch
The recent example of a vaccine scandal with China’s largest vaccine manufacturer, Changchun Changsheng, may be used here. When the negative news articles were blocked and taken down across the internet, someone inscribed the news article onto the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain, rendering most government-induced internet censorship useless.
However, if blockchain is to protect the accessibility of information for all, it is imperative that it remains public.
Decentralized networks are the key to resisting third-party influence and control over ownership and access to user information. In a decentralized system, the internet is a community of users and a network of independent machines that power and host information. This not only removes central authorities from a controlling position of internet censorship but also makes systems more resilient to failures and hacks.
What is your opinion on decentralized systems? Will these become more potent as internet censorship intensifies? Let us know in the comments!
Images courtesy of Freedom House / Visual Capitalist, Shutterstock.