THE BLOG
09/20/2016 10:59 am ET Updated Sep 21, 2017

Censorship in the 21st Century

Censorship has been around for centuries. Its form has always varied depending on the era, but the idea was always the same -- to suppress any radically opposing views from those of the country's leaders. The question is: who said that their views are the right ones? A prominent case of censorship back in the ancient times was that of Socrates. In the 399 BC he was forced to drink poison as a form of punishment for corrupting the youth by spreading the message of his acknowledgement of unorthodox divinities.

Throughout history there are many such cases and some countries still practice strict censorship rules by controlling all forms of media and any nontraditional public behavior. Both the 20th and the 21st centuries faced huge freedom rights' uproars. These past few centuries the public felt more empowered and enlightened to stand up for what they believe in. A plethora of freedom rights campaigns and organizations have been created both national and international, fighting for freedom in certain countries, as well as the world.

In less than 3 decades the world has seen a huge revolution in the realm of censorship, as we moved towards the digital age and were introduced to the World Wide Web.

An online world seems to have no boundaries regarding freedom or the amount of information it contains. It seems you can find information on any topic that your mind is capable of coming up with, regardless of how controversial it is. However, when you start thinking about it, one obvious question arises. Does the censorship work online?

For centuries the public view has been controlled, but can the 21st century offer us virtual freedom with no censorship? The answer is more complex than you think, because the truth is - censorship exists even online.

The general idea that many people are aware of is that some countries such as North Korea and Saudi Arabia condone powerful internet censorship. They control the information people can access online from their country. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg compared to what's really taking place.

Information regarding the government's affairs is strictly protected from the public. Many events take place that are hidden from the public eye; affairs in foreign countries, local events that are considered private and lots of other instances that people have simply no access to. But with the use of technology and vast opportunities of the internet, there are possibilities of leaking that information online.

The freedom you see on the internet means there is someone out there fighting for this freedom for our benefit. Just like there are freedom rights organizations in the physical world, the virtual world has freedom rights companies that stand for the truth they believe in and refuse to fabricate any information. They upload facts as they are in their raw form and just like in any aspect of life, there are supporters and critics in this field as well.

There are a few controversial websites that post information online without the government's consent - one of which is WikiLeaks. The founder of this organization, Julian Assange, currently remains in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since being granted political asylum in 2012. WikiLeaks posts confidential information and images into the public domain. A famous case that pushed the website to public's attention was footage released in 2010, of 18 civilians being shot dead in Iraq by US soldiers.

Another recent example of a website uploading sensitive information for the world to see is a Bermuda Vacation case. It's a website that was set up for the freedom of speech purposes, similar to WikiLeaks. The owner of the site was accused of drug trafficking. The website reveals all the evidence falsified by the Bermuda police, newspapers and local judges and it was taken down several times due to the confidential nature of the information, until an offshore hosting company called LibertyVPS moved the site to its offshore VPS servers in Netherlands.

Looking at these cases you might think; why is this confidential information still there, can't the government take it down? That's where the trick is. These organizations can only exist online with the help of offshore hosting companies that fight for freedom rights. Any mainstream hosting service would have taken down such sensitive information on Bermuda Vacation or WikiLeaks. Those fighting for the freedom rights believe this information has the right to be seen by the public, and it wouldn't be there if it wasn't for the freedom fighters of the virtual world.