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Internet has become the World Wide Web through which several countries have benefited a lot from it. However, there are some countries which have restricted the internet usage regarding many issues which threat the national security for such countries.
Due to the fact that, accessibility and censorship has resulted to ethical issues that have several branches in cyber ethics. As a matter of fact, there are many questions that have been raised that challenge individual understands of privacy, security, as well as people's participation in the society. Through the centuries, there has been construction of mechanisms of censor in the name of national security and protection.
Currently, the applications have moved to software state. Such softwares are used in filtering internet contents to ensure that are not easily accessed and obtained without elaborate circumvention. It has been proved that, similar arguments that apply to offline censorship and filtering have been applied to online censor. As a result, this research tries to critically analyze whether individuals are better off with free access to the information, or if such individuals should be protected from what the governing organ considers as being harmful, indent or illicit (Hamade, 2008).
1. What is Internet filtering and how is it conducted?
2. There are many using of the software in the marked what it is? Who is using this filtering software and why. Is internet filtering considered protection or censorship?
3. What are the countries which monitor some websites?
4. Why some countries have extraordinary effort to barriers the specific websites?
Internet filtering is a phrase that has been used to describe content control software and/or internet censorship. To some extent, this can be attained first through laws and regulations, and secondly through technical means. By the use of laws and regulations, the governing body might set rules and regulations that burs the use or provision of some materials, all internet users have to abide by the laws or ends up being locked in jail. Some regimes might also be at very good in intimidating material providers. Such intimidations are meant to force such providers to censure their own materials before posting them to the internet. This means that, such laws and regulations might also criminalize the sending of indecent materials over the internet. Their have been some laws and regulations which have ensure the protection of minors.
Such laws might demand that, minors are not supposed to access materials that deem harmful to them. In such conditions internet materials are to be checked and determined by some set of organization set by the governing body. There are some laws and regulations which might bur some organizations and individuals engaged in internet material provision from receiving certain incentives like funds. In such conditions, such organizations like libraries are forced to install filtering software on their computers. This prevents their viewers from accessing certain cite. There are times, the laws politely asks stakeholders like the government service providers and users as well as industries to produce codes of conducts, and ensure that such codes have been implemented to the later (Hamade, 2008 ).
The other way is by the use of technical techniques. In achieving this, governing bodies in some parts world have ensured that they control online contents at the backbone level, that is near the international gateways. This means requesting for content blockages before the request leave the country, or enters the country. Another system has been to ensure that all the internet materials are being controlled from a single point. This ensures that governing body monitors all the material contents that are on the internet. Another method that has been employed in internet filtering is the use of filtering and censuring softwares. These filtering software contain a massive database of banned sites or words. Though the method attains 100% control, it also ends up blocking useful information that might be very significant to a particular group or as a country as a whole. Such useful information might be of no harm to anybody, but since they might contain some sites or words stated in the software data base, the entire information gets affected.
Internet filtering software is also called content control software, or censor-software, are computer programs are used in data streaming processes. Some programs like UNIX have been equipped with filtering programs. Such filtering programs get most of its data from a stand point, and end up writing its major results to standard outputs. With such operations, the only command syntax for getting data from a device or even a file other than the standard input, remains to be the input operator. In the same way, sending data to a device or file other than standard output, remains to be the output operator. With this mechanism, filtering devices determines the content available on a particular computer. This is because, the software blocks specific categories of information that goes or comes from the internet (Terrell, 208).
Initially, the software was being used by parents to prevent their children from accidentally or purposefully accessing pornographic cites or any other cite that can be harmful to the child. However, currently, it has gained other uses. For instance, organizations and employers have bought the idea to prevent their employees from accessing certain cite. In addition, addition, they are using it to control and monitor internet usage at workplace, as some employers might spend more time on the internet doing other things other than their intended work. This might make the organizations and employers run at loss due to low productivity. Governments, organizations and individuals are using the software to reduce an increased risk of spyware as well as adware infections, when individuals visits unsafe cites. Which a thing occurs, concerned parties incur go cost huge losses.
The software is being employed tracking and monitoring all incoming and out going web traffic. Individuals and industries are using it block unwanted pop ups. On the other hand, governments are using it to block activists like the human rights in China, religious criticisms like most countries in the Middle East, pornographic materials for the protection of religious values and children like in the U.S. China and most Middle East countries like Saudi Arabia. In addition, governments are using it to censor information concerning military and military websites, sex education, alcohols or drugs, some music, gay and lesbian websites.
Ethics in Internet Filtering
The computer ethics is much interesting that it has made gender ethics relatively unnecessary. The usual ethical thread that runs through throughout computer history is the protection along with the advancement of human values like health, security, happiness, freedom, knowledge, resources as well as opportunities and power. Defining the issue of privacy in terms of ethical and moral point of view;, means being central to dignity and individuality, along with personhood. It means having an area of individual life, that is totally under ones own control, such area ought to be free from external intrusion. As a matter of fact, individuals provide their personal information when registering or purchasing items, it is much ethical to filter and protect such information from undesired intrusion. Both fraud and impersonation are malicious practices that might occur due to either direct or indirect abuse of private information. There has been an increase in private information accessibility on the internet. The major culprit has been search engines as well as database.
The availability of such huge information has to be protected, to ensure that they stand alone. However, personal information can be collected from social networks to work against such protection means. As a result, most Middle East countries have filtered social cites. As an effect, it is good to look into the points of ethics concerning how protected data ends up public domain (Anderson, 2007; Edwards, 2010)
Hacking can be seen to be unethical. This is because; as it has been seen as a trespass into someone's property. However, it is not all unethical, as it can be done with necessity. This for instance when is the one way of getting murders and killers. In addition, it has not been clear if digital intrusion can be termed as trespass, due to the fact that it is not physical intrusion. Even so, it is much clear that it such intrusions impinge upon privacy rights. Hacking into other peoples computers without any permission, ends up getting personal properties including information that individuals have legitimate expectations of privacy.
There are times when intrusion might cause harm due to malice, which might be considered wrong. However, it is some time good to cause harm to another individual when there is a necessity of saving a greater opportunity. So having intrusion on personal information of terrorist or terror suspects to remove files that are associated with terror plots should be considered as being ethical. This is because; the lives of the majority will be in danger if such an act is not done (Jedidiah, et al, 2007).
It has been shown that, when hacking into other individual's information, gives rise to the knowledge on how such cites could be improved. Another issue is that, the breaks can lead to attention to security flaws that can be employed in case malicious hackers or even worse terrorists. These can lead to lots of benefits to the society, hence should be justified. Even though it can be claimed that both privacy and property rights yields to utilitarian considerations, such social benefits can be attained can be attained without infringing upon any moral rights like freedom. However, the problem is that, property and privacy of machine and internet owners, amounts to moral rights, so appealing to social benefits can't justify hacking (Borns, 1996).
The matter of security has been for along time debated. There are countries which have argued that, it is better to protect the common good of the community other than safeguarding the rights of some individuals, while others most of the Middle East countries have ended up arguing the opposite, and have given more priorities on the safeguarding the rights of some individual leaders. All these is because, as more individuals become connected to the internet, more and more personal data becomes available online, there is susceptibility to identity theft, cyber crimes as well as computer hacking. As a matter of fact, this has also led to the question of who regulates the internet for national security purposes. However, this privacy and property rights intrusion can be justified on the basis unauthorized intrusion if it has to secure some more important rights that outweigh such privacy and property rights (Hamade, 2008).
Some times it has been argued that, intrusions are made to prevent resources which could have been a waste. In one way or the other, it identifies moral principle that limits some rights, like the right to property. In most countries, rights are mostly limited to moral principles. For instance, individuals are not supposed to kill in the name of saving their own lives from a culpable threat. On the other hand, this can be regarded as being wrong on the basis that if an individual has a right to a certain property in some kind of object, it is far much wrong for anyone else to appropriate the object, without permission of preventing the object from being wasted.
There those who have argued that intrusion as exercising the rights to a free flow of content. This principle is based on the fact that right to free expression s sometimes entails restrictions or limits on the free flow of the content. These restrictions are some times wrong in the virtue of right to free expression of speech violation. Then, there have been security measure which have been designed for keeping hackers out of networks violates their rights to free expression, as they hinders the free flow of content. There has been a moral value in this argument that limits other rights. For instance, the right of free expression, one grounded in a stronger right as compared to privacy and property rights. This moral value prevents other rights of permitting restrictions on the free flow of content. However, there are those who have argued that there is no moral legitimate restrictions on the content free flow precludes, there being any right to information privacy that enables individuals to exclude others from some sort of information. Going by available definitions, this in one way or the other impedes content free flow. If in any case there is information privacy right, then free expression allows restrictions on the free flow of the content (Weaver, 1996).
Contrary, there is these claiming that there is no moral legitimacy restrictions on content free flow, have been inconsistent with moral intellectual property (IP) rights. IP rights might be weaker as compared to the right defined by IP in laws. However, the claim that there exist moral IP rights has been inconsistent with claims that there is in moral legitimate restrictions on the content free flow. If IP rights ends up excluding individuals from contents, then the rights of free expression allows restrictions on the content flow.
As a mater of fact, different countries differ in the manner in which they control internet contents. Though China and Middle East countries exercise tight control over intent content, China tops the list of having tight regulations on the internet usage. In China, any material whose content include pornography, criticism of the regime or even or even information containing Taiwanese independence ends up being blocked in China. In this country, it is at the backbone level that the internet use is regulated. As a result, internet content ends up being blocked before request leave Chinese backbone lines to connect to the international lines. Most information that flows in the country is subject to repressive filtering by local service providers. This has been enforced by the government through strict laws and regulations that providers have to abide by. In addition, the regime is so good at intimidating content providers as well as content users, and forcing them to censure their own materials. Those who attempt violating such like rules, ends up being locked in prison.
On the other hand, most Middle East countries like Saudi Arabia censures any materials containing, pornography, anti-Muslim massages, or even containing criticisms of Saudi Arabia as a whole, royal family or the Gulf State. It is just by a single node that internet materials are controlled from. This has made the government to be the sole arbiter on what online viewers has to view and what they have not to (Terrell, 208).
The qualitative data will be collected from the international conferences on information technology field which conducted in many countries, using the academic journals, books and survey. The research will employ a mixed research design method. It is important to note that theoretical study calls for deeper digging of various literatures ranging from journals, publications, books, other forms of literature and from the internet. Qualitative research will also be employed in the study; the approach seeks to contextualize the research by immersing the researcher into the study scenario as well as with the study subjects. Hypotheses are developed and data is collected and the results tend to be subjective. A case study as a sub type of qualitative research is used to ensure that the study is flexible enough to give the researcher room to investigate issues that were not previously thought of and could be worth being brought to light Prior to actual survey, a pilot study will be carried out in order to help adjust the questionnaires whenever deemed necessary.
Questionnaire covers a large population at a time as they would be distributed to different participants at a time and be collected later or at the same day depending on the willingness of the responded in addressing the questions, due to it being standardized they are more objective, data collected from questionnaire are easy to analyze, due to familiarity with the tool, responded will not be apprehensive, it is also very cost effective as compared to face to face interviews, the tool also reduces bias. However, the problem with questionnaires is that, there is tendency of respondent to forget vital information; they may answer the questions superficially when it is a long one. To counter this, there will be a development of a short but very inclusive questionnaire. Due to standardization, there is no room for explanation in case respondents misinterpret or do not understand the questions.
Document studies; existing records were used to provide insights into situations that were neither observable nor noted in any other way. In the study, documents were defined as written materials not published for the reason of evaluating or at the request of the inquirer. They were divided into public records and personal records. Public records were the materials kept for the reason of attesting events or provision of accounts. Such materials were much helpful in the understanding of project participants and group comparisons. Internal records included historical accounts, institutions mission statements, annual reports graded and standardized test reports, institutions meetings, internal memos, policy manuals, institutional histories, mass media reports.
Such materials were much helpful in the description of institutional traits such as background and performances, along with institutions' strength and weakness identification. They helped the researcher in the understanding of institution's values, priorities and concerns. In addition, they provided records and history not subjected to any bias. On the other hand, personal records included diaries, portfolios schedules, and artworks among others. These were much helpful in the understanding of the participants' world perception. Compared to other methods employed, this method was relatively invisible to, and demands less cooperation from individuals. The advantages and disadvantages of this method are outlined in appendix.
Methods of analysis
The most common analysis of qualitative data will just be observation impression. This is where the observer examines the collected data, then interpret it by the use of personal impression formation, and ends up reporting his/her impression in a structured and a times quantitative forms. Interpretation is usually done by the use of different means and techniques.
Coding; this is a data interpretive technique that organizes the available data and provides a mode of introducing the interpretations of it into certain quantitative methods. Coding required the analyst to go through the data while demarcating different segments within it. Every segment was then be labeled with a particular unique code, which was just a word that suggested how the associated data segments informed the research questions. After data coding, a report via a mix of summarizing prevalence of codes was prepared by the researcher.
The report discussed both similarities and differences in related codes across the original source. Some of the qualitative data that were highly structure were typically coded without any other additional content segmentation. In such like cases, codes are applied just as a layer on the top of the data. Contemporary qualitative data analysis was at times supported by computer programs.