Should the Government Censor Internet Content During Riots/Protests?

During riots, protests and times of unrest, governments around the world censor content on the internet. Common victims of such censorship are political blogs, videos and social media websites. This censorship is premised on the assumption that the internet can be used as a tool for furtherance of the unrest. It allows for dissemination of rumours, incitement of hatred and promotion of propaganda by the rioters, all of which would exacerbate an already tenuous situation. 

In two policy papers presented at the Global Debate and Public Policy Challenge, 2013, I argue that content on the internet should not be censored during times of unrest because instead of curbing the unrest, censorship is likely to worsen it. The papers rely on theories such as the Streisand effect and cite historical instances to prove that an open internet is crucial to control rioting crowds.

The first paper is a policy memorandum on behalf of the government and the second is a policy brief that critiques and adds to the government’s memorandum written on behalf of a civil society organization.

Featured image from here.

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