The internet is a big part of our lives in the 21st Century.
Rather than mailing out checks for bills, we can pay them instantly online. You once had to visit your local bank branch to deposit a check, now all you have to do is scan it using your smartphone (assuming you don’t already have direct deposit). The internet is making our lives easier in many ways. However, aside from the positives, the internet does have a dark side. Even the best internet provider does not make a difference in the dark side of the internet.
A skilled hacker can steal your identity and wreak havoc on your bank account. Your kids can be cyber bullied and exposed to inappropriate content at too early an age. The internet is also responsible for the file sharing phenomenon that has a negative effect on the entertainment industry. The internet is vast, and it is not completely policed by any governing body. Many think the cure to the evils of the internet would be government control.
Pros: Improved Security
With the government in charge of the internet, there would likely be less cyber crime. For any file sharing enthusiasts, this is a bad thing. However, if you have ever had to call your bank because someone stole your information, and ran up your credit card with unwelcome charges, then it would be a plus. As long as there is the internet, there will always be internet crime. However, a government controlled internet would likely come with better enforcement and counter measures than what is currently in place.
Cons: Censorship, Lack of Privacy
If the government controlled internet access, they would definitely have more say about what content can and cannot be viewed. China has done this already, and it has been met with controversy by the rest of the world. That is not to say the United States would go to the same extremes but they could if they wanted to. They have also tried to pass what many view as censorship laws in the past through bills like SOPA and PIPA. (SOPA is “Stop Online Piracy Act” and PIPA is the “Protect IP Act”).
They failed in doing so, but if it had control over the internet, the federal government could do all that and more. While the internet can be a nasty place, anyone is free to visit any site they want to. It’s like saying some books are bad, so all books need in-depth regulation.
If you just want to visit Facebook and check your email that is your right. If you would like to frequent a My Little Pony fan site, you are free to do it. If you want to look at things not everyone would find family-friendly, then that’s your right, as well. You do not have to agree with other people’s choices, but respect their right to free choice.
Another negative to the government being in control of the internet is the amount of privacy we would lose. Through the Patriot Act, the government can already monitor our phone calls if they feel they have reason to do so. Having the same access to an internet account would take away even more privacy. There has been speculation about internet companies giving away customer information to the government already, although the companies deny it. When it comes to our privacy rights, the line has to be drawn somewhere.
There are pros and cons to every situation, and government controlled internet access is no exception. While improved security might be nice, we would be giving up some of our rights in the process. A decision this important could go to a vote, where informed Americans can decide for themselves what is right for them. Until then, the debate rages on.