An end to online censorship?
Recently, Google Executive, Eric Schmidt predicted that censorship around the world would end in the coming decade.
Freedom of speech is one of the best ways to practice democracy, which is why so many authoritative ruling bodies wish to prevent its existence. Governments around the world have been known to engage in the practice of censorship from China and its "Great Firewall" to the United States, which has employed an extensive online surveillance program.
These practices are harmful to citizens because it prohibits the free flow of information and expression. Activists around the globe are quite vocal about the need for greater exchange of ideas – both in print, practice (in the form of civil dissent) and online.
The end of censorship?
These efforts are coming from a number of different parties. Activists have been quite vocal about changing government policies, while some companies, such as the Internet giant, Google, have been looking to employ new tools to circumvent these laws. Because of these efforts, Google Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, has predicted that censorship around the world could end in the next ten years, according to Reuters.
He recently spoke at a lecture at Johns Hopkins University where he discussed the prospects of protecting individual freedoms on the Internet.
"I believe there's a real chance that we can eliminate censorship and the possibility of censorship in a decade," Schmidt said, according to the news source.
He credited these potential achievements to making encryption keys lengthier, which could make them more difficult to access. Schmidt has been a long time advocate of free speech liberties, and recently made a trip to North Korea in hopes to make the flow of information freer in the country. Though it failed, he believes that by making strides and bringing down these barriers, censorship will ultimately lose out.
There have been efforts from a number of different fields that are working to breakdown these barriers. Google itself has been working to do so through tools such as its most recent uProxy. This tool would allow users in freer internet countries to provide safe access portals to those who are living in more censored ones like Iran or China.
However, more independent cyberactivists have also been able to make important strides in doing so. According to The Guardian, Charlie Smith has helped develop a strategy that can provide access to blocked sites in China without having to use software geared toward bypassing the firewall. Smith is one of the co-founders of GreatFire.org, a website aimed at monitoring internet censorship in the country.
According to the news source, this strategy would effectively create replicas of blocked sites so that users in China would be able to easily access them. This can occur by hosting these websites through the servers of prominent companies such as Amazon. This way, if the government wanted to shutdown one of these mirror sites, it would have to shutdown the servers of some prominent economic entities that are operating within the country.
A number of major news outlets have been blocked in China, including The Wall Street Journal and Reuters Chinese-language sites for the topics they have covered. The latter two were the most recent ones to be blocked after publishing a story that showed business ties between banking giant JP Morgan and the daughter of a prominent politician.
Though there is still a far ways to go when it comes to completely ridding the world of censorship, these recent strategies are encouraging. If these tools are able to allow just a few more people access to a free Internet, then perhaps these blocks on free speech will continue to fall as well.