Thursday, January 18, 2007

Topic "Censorship...." - Complete Analysis

Hey Guys,

It was surprising that a group that came up with such a stellar performance on a vague topic came out so mundane and average in this one. I had deliberately put a topic which had so many obvious points. But the group did move beyond the obvious points.

Here are the consolidated comments.

1. The group on the whole did not rise above pornography, terrorism, hatred sites etc. Some attempts like democracy, parental control were there but I wanted to see more of that.

2. Most starts revolved around the Indian constitution. Read the topic carefully. It does not say "Indian Govt"

3. Please be clear on the difference between monitoring, controlling and censorship. If you dont, then you will talking 'off' the topic

4. Most of you have just made points on how the internet has been misused etc etc but haven’t told if "censorship" would be effective in preventing that

5. Many of you said that though Governments blocks many things on the internet, it eventually crops up somewhere else. Good point, but very sad that the conclusion to this problem was ‘so why bother to censor’. Rather it should have been how to make censorship effective. Good points with bad analysis ends up nowhere

So the learnings are:
1. Understand the topic carefully and STICK to it
2. Generate arguments. Facts are good, but not if they dont have conclusions
3. Do not get sentimental, opinionated
lets carry them to the next round and not repeat mistakes.

My Start:
Govts across the world always had censorship on television, movies, newpapers etc though it has been limited in democracies. With the advent of internet the borders of countries have been broken and govts are grappling to understand a way to control it. Though internet has heralded itself as 'free for all', it is clear that it has been misused for many things. So it is important to control and monitor, but the necessity of censorhip itself may be questionable.

Points in the middle
1. US censored the beaming of the Iraq war and restricted the media. Internet took the mantle of showing us both the sides of the war
2. Mass media like internet doesn’t come by pull, but many times by push. So it is important to control
3. Why leave everything to the govt. There shud be self restraint to some extent. Didnt google know that its google maps cud be misused
4. People say, one has right to express what he wants and can post any video on youtube and the end user shud use his discretion. But what about invasion of privacy here. And who else can protect individuals, if not the law of the land
5. Even though Govt shud not censor, they shud have the ability to do so. This may be needed in case of national emergencies
6. Why only talk about terrorist groups. Some newspapers in their zeal to dig deeper have written articles on the internet describing in detail how bombs are made. Shudnt the govt rap their knuckles and make them behave
7. On the whole, monitoring and control by Govt is not only necessary but important, but they shud restrain from censorship.
8. There are groups on social networking websites which say they hate India. So what. Should the Governments be telling people what is should be loving, hating or be angry about
9. Everybody is harping on porn. So why not make it difficult to access. Making them payable will help. Age control, parental control, technology control can be used. Agreed they have not been effective, but the quest shud be to make it effective rather than censor

Good/ Decent points by the group
1. Government intrusion in blogging would defeat d entire purpose of blogs
2. People ought 2 b left free 2 deide wat 2 view nd wat not
3. The onus is on us 2 develop a socity where everyone says.."I may not agree wid u ,but i'll defend till death ur right 2 speak "
4. Censorship may be needed when it concerns the security of the country
5. Censorship should be something which says what is wrong rather than spoonfeeding what is correct
6. Censorships can atleast avoid kids unintentionally getting exposed to such kind of unintended stuff. Definitely kids dont have the self discretion of not getting effected ----- Stretch beyond a little bit and you could have brought a good perspective. You should have brought in the funda of ‘parental control’
7. It should be taken care that the decisions are always reviewed for the implementation
8. True that the right to "freedom of speech" is enshrined in our constitution, but it is equally counter-productive in a "confused" democracy....where people have rights, but don't know how to use them ---- My personal opinion on this is that it is elitist opinion, but a good view nevertheless
9. If we have one source which is spewing hatred. We have numbers of others which advocate restraint and mention fault with that paricular hatred filled site
Every act of freedom comes with a caveat involved. Freedom of speech is no exception. No doubt, acts of terror, pedophiles and suchlike have to be kept in check But still it doesn't allow absolute rights to the governments. The difference between a dictatorship and democracy is that, In dictatorship, the leader is accountable to none and therefore every action of his, whether right or wrong becomes the law. A government with infinite powers will bring alive the Orwellian world of '1984' alive. In short, Who is going to watch the watchdog
10. There should be no censorship on expression of views. Just because a person holds an opposing view, it doesn't gives you a right to strangle his voice. How does it matter if someone maintains "I Hate India" community on orkut? India is not going to vanish from world map due to this. In fact, it will give us a chance to know about the negative perspectives as well
11. Yes, Censorship of websites is required to stop trading of children. Censorship is required to check pedophiles trading children on net. But this is not an expression of opinion or view, but rather an act unacceptable in any society
12. A possible solution might be, If government is going to block a particular website or blog, then this action should be contestable in courts. A government site must mention the name of the blogs or sites that have been blocked along with reason for being blocked and this action must be contestable in courts. Every action of government must be in purview of RTI act.
13. Internet in itself, has become the best medium of communication, it is a valid extension of speech. So applying the same idea, if the government cannot stop people from saying what they want, how can it stop people from writing & reading what they want?
14. It is an unnerving thought of the power of such ideas, laid down by powerful people, can have such a large impact on us

Points on which people would take trophis for counter points

1. The area where regulation is most perceived i s that of ponography...but even here we fail 2 realise that those who view it wud find one way or d other 2 do that regardless of whichever regulations n restrictions r imposed --- what are you trying to say here. That we should stop porn, but we wont since we cant??

2. indian govt asking google to remove pages on orkut conataning hatred against the nation by pakistan etc... is fine…. But China asking Google to pack off for showing hatred articles on Tiananmen Square is wrong ---- Lack of consistency? Patriotism? Or sheer Hypocrisy?? :)

3. Some politicians/govt. may make misuse of these censorships by controlling the media to safegaurd themselves . Instead there can be an anonimous panel formed to control the internet ---- people in the group would eat you like lions for making such points :)

Global Gyan
1. There should be a clearly defined limit to the degree of censorship – Global Gyan. How can there be “clear” limit when the thing is subjective

Points that cud have been better
1. All good things come with a pinch of salt and controlling them lies a solution. A soln might be to give the entire detail of the Internet user so that tracking becomes easy and this idea is rightly brought abt by the government wherein each cyber user needs to furnish his/her details before logging --- Good point, but where is the conclusion. Add the sentence, ‘So I would say, rather than censoring, Government should exercise better control’ and you have a fair and strong point. The group may not agree with you but you have brought a good view

2. There have been some views about google earth maps showing sites of critical importance to indian security. Well, Majority of terror attacks in India are planned by ISI. They already have access to satellite pictures taken by Pakistani satellites. It would be naive to assume that ISI would be waiting for these google earth maps for performing their operations ---- Don’t get carried away. It sure prevents less sophisticated enemies (home grown terrorist groups for instance). Anyone bringing such a counter point would take away the credit. Don’t give away such credits for free, make them work hard for it

Click here for analysis of the previous topic
Click here for analysis of next topic



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I seem to be confused between monitoring and censorship even after going thru ur points...For me, both hold the same stance
Secondly, for ur 3rd point regarding google, wot idea were u trying to bring
Pls excuse me for my ignorance


7:10 PM, January 18, 2007  
Blogger Gyan-ee said...

Great to see counter questions. It is best when you dont take things lying down because I have said it. I wud rather elucidate than you not understnading. And we are all ignorant since knowledge doent end ;)

1. Monitoring is like the military monitoring the radio frequencies. They listen, make use of the info, kick the militants on the butt, but may not block the frequency. Similarly, Govts shud monitor hate websites etc so that they know is someone is trying to do anything unlawful. Censoring it may not be effective as some of you pointed out.

2. It is my mistake that I have not elaborated on the self-restraint point. If you see, the govt does not censor too many things from the press. But there is a Press Council of India which makes sure that newspapers do not cross limits. They have put checks and balances on themselves.
Similarly big companies having applications and info on the internet shud make sure that they put some restraints on themselves and do not go overboard. Kind of self-censorship

I consider the two points that I put here as my failed points since I had to elaborate to the group. I wud not have got this chance in a GD and hence the group wud have ignored/discarded the idea. So thats a learning for the group. If you dont articulate well, then you may lose out on a good point that you made.

More comments, counter arguments, keep coming

10:26 PM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gyan-ee,wat i meant 2 say in d point on porn was dat there r so many means through which people can have access 2 it .. internet is just 1 of censorship wudn't really fit d bill here ..


7:25 AM, January 22, 2007  
Blogger Gyan-ee said...


Agreed. But if porn has to be censored, it has to be done everywhere. Similar to terrorist related details.

Other ways of preventing porn to the kids hands (remember govt may not want to prevent adults accessing it) is to make all the porn websites payable and also tax them for it. That gives one layer of protection as it is not free for all.

9:28 PM, January 23, 2007  
Blogger Gyan-ee said...

the idea of payable porn on net is in place in US.

Another idea is to make it compulsory for the porn sites to have 'porn filter software' on the net. though this is not greatly effective, it certainly puts one more check in place

9:30 PM, January 23, 2007  

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