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Censure or free space? Which is the best solution to regulate the internet?

08 April 2015
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Tudor DARIE, Interakt managing director, IT entrepreneur
 

According to the most recent statistic data, Republic of Moldova has about 1.9 million Internet users. To make a comparison, at the last parliamentary elections of November 30, 2014 1.59 million electors participated. Therefore, the Internet is not just a game anymore and politicians already understood that.

 

Why do the world states want to censure the Internet?

The first reason is a political one. It is common knowledge that any government wants to remain in power. Politicians need our votes and to obtain them they tend to minimize critical opinions and gain the support of the media. Let us remember that in many states of the world massive street protests were started and supported online. This is why we may conclude that the Internet freedom is a potential enemy for any government. This applies especially to corrupt, authoritarian and dictatorial governments.
 
Another important factor in the Internet censure are intelligence services and enforcement structures. Their job is to fight criminality. Since the technologies develop, they become efficient instruments to hack bank accounts, e-mail addresses etc. Enforcement structures need control over the Internet to be able to identify easily individuals committing computer crimes. Used on the ground of the state information security or fight against terrorism, such control obviously violates citizens’ right to privacy. The state taps telephone conversations, reads citizens’ e-mails, filters the content of social networks and certain media websites, blocks the Internet providers’ access to particular websites, and imposes the licensing of news sites etc., which is not ok. We have a problem.

 

Moldovan “know how” in online censure

Moldovan authorities has been looking for grounds to control the Internet for years. Initially, in 2008, they set forth the reason of fighting “enemies of statehood” when they sought out several tens of forum members. Two other attempts followed in 2014. The first was grounded by the fight against child pornography, then by the fight against terrorism. The authorities “solution” was to create a short list of websites to be easily blocked by the decision of the Intelligence service (SIS). This way SIS blocking websites like unimedia.info, protv.md, privesc.eu or agora.md for having found some “terrorist” comment attacking the “statehood” is just a matter of time. The country wants to join the European Union and at the same time applies Chinese and Russian know-how.

The autumn of 2014 was a moment of respite. The Parliament seemed ready to guarantee the neutrality and freedom of the Internet. But immediately after the elections, the Parliament cancelled its own draft Declaration according to which it engaged not to censure the Internet. This draft document stated that the Parliament engaged to maintain the Internet open and neuter and to implement the EU legal framework and practices in this field.

 

Can the Internet be totally controlled?

Even if the government intends to regulate any word online and implements such intention, it will be surprised to find out that things get out of their hands. Currently, some users choose TOR for safe Internet surfing or resort to P2P solutions to exchange information. But Mr Eric Schmidt from Google says in the future the Internet will not be as we know it today any more.

A new digital era is to come. The virtual freedom could be guaranteed by the immediate interconnection of devices in the close vicinity and sending information without passing it through Internet filters. Or, who knows, maybe by the time you read this article a genius is borne and will reinvent a totally new possibility of remote communication… 

To get back to the question of the title, I believe the best regulatory solution is… not to regulate the Internet. It should be kept free.

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The article was published within the Advocacy Campaigns Aimed at Improving Transparency of Media Ownership, Access to Information and promotion of EU values  and integration project, implemented by the IJC, which is, in its turn, part of the Moldova Partnerships for Sustainable Civil Society project, implemented by FHI 360.
 
This article is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The content are the responsibility of author and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

 

Photo: allmoldova.com 

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