Internet surveillance and content control in the hands of many governments is increasing over the past few years in a frightening pace. I’m not only talking about Iran or China’s Great Firewall, I’m talking about some of the richest and so-called “free” nations on the planet. First and foremost you have the United States of America whose National Security Agency is monitoring all of its citizens online activity (as revealed by Edward Snowden). I’m talking about the UK which has some of the stringent internet laws forcing internet providers to store all user’s data for a period of 2 years, or Australia which is showing no regard to user privacy. Even countries which are considered as the pioneers of the truly free internet such as Israel are considering legal limitations for certain websites which are by no means illegal.
Almost every single government in the world is going out of its way to monitor online activities and limit the freedoms of internet users. They say they have good reasons. Cybercrime and internet-supported crime rate is going through the roof with each year passing. Telegram has become synonymous with ISIS, pedophile activity is skyrocketing, and Dark Net websites like The Silk Road (or its current successors) serve as a free market for assassinations. Perpetrators are using the world’s inter-connectivity to find victims (for scams, sexual abuse, or burglaries), and rely on free information to improve their vicious techniques or cover up their tracks. There is a lot of crime over the internet, wherever you go.
The real question is whether the internet is blockable at all, and whether does internet surveillance and censorship really serve the goal they were allegedly set up to serve.
The first question is easier to address. Blocking parts of the internet doesn’t work. The way to block a certain website or online service is through contacting domestic Internet Service Providers. Government warrants specify the domain address or IP address to block and ISPs refuse allowing their users to reach that domain or IP address. It’s very easy to bypass that.
Users who want to access blocked content (whether its a website that has been locally blocked as in the example above, or content which is limited to people from certain regions) can use VPNs. These cheap and easy-to-use software enable users to connect to the internet through a remote third party server located somewhere else. So all the data is processed through that remove server and the local ISPs have nothing to do about it. We created a list of the best VPN software for 2018 available on RuinMySearchHistory.com, but if you want the TL;DR you can read our VyprVPN review or NordVPN review which have been selected as the best VPNs.
Website owners can easily get unblocked through engaging in the mouse and cat race with the internet censorship government body. These websites owners can jump between as many domains and IPs and they want and even automate the process, while government bodies will be chasing their tail to find the new domains and IP address which may change on a daily or hourly basis. There are quite some websites using these sort of methodologies for years. For example in Turkey, being a Muslim country, betting is highly illegal, and websites offering gambling to Turkish clients are blocked on a daily basis, but that has little impact. As soon as an operator is blocked it automatically redirects its website to a new address.
The second question is more difficult to address. As a general rule of thumb, government control never works. Decriminalization of drugs has always showed positive results, and the only reason to criminalize it is to serve higher commercial interests but those who control the economy behind the curtains, the large corporations. Still, there is not enough concrete data one way or another that shows that internet surveillance or censorship is either useful nor harmful in terms of preventing terrorism attacks and protecting potential victims. Governments don’t feel liable, for some reason, to demonstrate the outcome of their actions to their voters. No one really knows whether the supposed means of security actually secure anyone.
One thing to keep in mind is that governments have every reason in the world to expand their control over the internet, irregardless of the supposed security benefits. Internet control is just a part of a stronger agenda which is intended to create a uniformity of opinions among citizens. Governments are controlling the traditional media for centuries, before the era of the internet, the television, and even before the media become “media”. Marks rightfully said that religion is opium for the people, and TV is just another reincarnation of the same concept.
The internet, being decentralized and ever-expanding could be the cure for an ignorance-plagued planet and that could potentially be the end of all governments. As government is the ultimate goose that lays golden eggs, the world’s richest and most so-called important people will do whatever in their power to prevent the internet from spreading and intellectual enlightenment from propagating into society.