December Beginners Tournament Final - Does the Internet need censorship?
Hello, this will be the final for the December Beginners Tournament, where I will take on Soldier_4Christ on the topic "Does the internet need censorship?", I thank Hayd for creating the tournament and I wish good luck to my opponent.
Need - Require something because it is essential or very important rather than just desirable
Censorship -The suppression of speech, public communication or other information which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient as determined by governments.
1) Citations or footnotes may be provided in the comments
2) No new arguments or extensions on arguments in the final round
3) The BoP is shared
4) At no point during the debate is forfeiture allowed
5) No semantics
Round structure -
First round - Acceptance
Second round - Opening arguments
Third round - Rebuttals
Fourth round - Defense and Rebuttals
Thank you for accepting, I wish my opponent good luck and without further ado I shall present my framework and arguments.
My framework will revolve around government policy, which highlights how affirming this resolution values the function that the state should have in protecting it's citizens and values the protection of not only the individual, but the state as a whole. It is clear that when we look at this topic we need to clearly analyze the effects censorship will have on the people as well as the government proving how my argument will not only be feasible, but favorable as well.
Contention 1 - A child's safety
Every government, be it either communist, socialist or democratic, values and exercises online censorship to some extent. Even the United States, a country that protects free speech in the First Ammendment of the United States Constitution has passed acts in recent years that highlight exceptions in this ammendment which are the Communications Decency Act in 1996 and the Children's Internet Protection Act in 1998. [A] [B]
This is because arguing against these expressions isn't about getting the freedom of expression infringed for those who want to publish material that may be considered harmful to children, it's about their freedom of conscience getting infringed, which is also important to respect, don't get me wrong, but considering the fact that people would use the whole 'freedom of consience' argument as an excuse to publish harmful material to children on the internet should not throw away the fact that they are exposing pornography, graphic violence or even promoting xenophobia on the internet simply cannot stand and it is clear that censoring at least the most extreme harmful materials that are avaliable to children on the internet is necessary. Why is it necessary? Let's look into it.
Children learn a great deal from the internet, in fact, the internet is a great learning tool if used correctly in helping promote social and cognitive growth. However, this does not mean the government should take absolutely no steps to preventing the rather obvious side effects that come about with children surfing the internet, as the resolution would state. The developing stages of children can be pyschologically affected by such use of the internet which can cause depression or antisocial and isolated behaviour in children as they grow older. In fact, a study showed that 79% of unwanted exposure to the youth on the internet took place in the HOME. [C]
This is why the government should take a more serious stance in their first responsibility to protecting it's citizens as implementing censorship protocol would help raise awareness to parents who are unaware of the dangers their child faces on the internet. [D]
Contention 2 - Having some security promotes legal protection
Don't even get me wrong if anyone is assuming at this point that I don't actually value the protection of own's own right to express himself on the internet, and such a system is not designed to restrict freedom of speech, on the contrary it protects them. If anyone were to publish their political beliefs or religious views by all means, they should. But if there is no system of censorship, if a political activist group was to directly use the internet to promote extremism or if a religious group was to promote any form of racism or religious conflict then there would be no measure taken against them which in turn could prove damaging to the government and the state as it could potentially lead to instability in the country itself.
Why censorship should be encouraged, is because to pass it, it will go through a legal system which clearly DEFINES what the government is going to be censoring, and with that, the government will not be accused of unfairly taking down sites that are going way out of line to promote violence and cause a huge system of events that can simply be avoided if it is clearly defined what exactly the laws of the internet are and it allows a smoother legal system to protect the state as a whole. Because even without any laws of censorship in a state that doesn't censor the internet, the action of censorship will still happen anyway, just in a subtle way, which is why the internet needs a legal system of censorship as it will prevent unwanted events to occur which protects the right of the individual and the state.
I conclude with these main substantives thus far, and my debate will be centered around me defending these key points which clearly define the protection of the individual in the first substative with youth protection, and the protection of the state, with the second substantive talking about the legal system, which is both done through the government's policy to protect it's state which can and will be done with the censorship of the internet, though not severe, but to a certain extent by the least.
[A] - https://www.eff.org...
[B] - https://epic.org...
[C] - http://www.covenanteyes.com...
[D] - http://www.todayszaman.com...
We don't need to guess when it comes to how far it can/would go with internet censorship. First of all we live in a world where dictatorships come and go. Look at China, which isn't even a dictatorship but likes to control all kinds of things. Why should a government be so concerned with what people have to say about them? If they are doing what is right for the people then they have nothing to worry about. Everybody should be able to speak freely and as long as they aren't breaking the law then that should be fine.
A censored internet isn't an internet at all as we know it, but rather a glorified cable tv. Which by the way is exactly what many governments and corporations would love to see happen. Not because it's better for us, but better for them. Both of these entities already have the means to be heard with or without the internet. But what about the common folk? Can the same be said about them? In fact, we wouldn't even have a site such as this as it's all about opinions and speaking on different issues, some of which would be frowned upon by certain governments and corporations. Such as the topic we picked for this debate.
Let's take a deeper look into the Chinese example.
"Xinhua, the state-run news agency, reported Wednesday that, through a new criminal law, Chinese officials will be able to impose a prison sentence of up to seven years on a person convicted of creating and spreading "false information" online. The law is the latest in an array of legal regulations that Chinese officials have used in recent years to silence political dissent and quash the spread of information and rumors."
"Since 2013, Chinese officials have often used another criminal charge, "picking quarrels and provoking trouble," to jail a wide range of people for online speech, including artists, essayists and liberal lawyers. "
"Some of the most popular American-run websites are blocked in China, including Google, Facebook and Twitter. (The New York Times has been blocked since 2012.)"
So what does that mean in a government where up is down, bitter is sweet, and true is false? What keeps them from declaring anything they don't like to be "lies", "terrorism", "picking quarrels", or "provoking trouble", etc.? Nothing, and as I already mentioned, it's only a matter of time before tyranny rears it's ugly face and it's over. Even here in the United States I am grateful for having other means of getting information and news besides having to rely on our media who has made agreements with the government and is also owned by a very small handful of people, all with their own agendas.
Every person should have the right to speak about anything they want. If they are lying then nobody will listen eventually, but that's their prerogative. Not to mention there isn't any way to know if they even knew they were "lying". If they are breaking the law in some way then it's the job of whatever jurisdiction they are in to address it accordingly. If anything, monitoring the activity online leads to tracking down criminals that they would've otherwise had more problems locating.
In summary, only a controlling government or greedy corporation has anything at all to gain from censorship. Everybody else ends up with the short end of the stick and will find themselves asking permission or being scared to say how they feel. Even taking down sites for being supposedly illegal in one way or another could get sketchy really quickly.
Rebuttal 1 - An uncensored internet gives people the illusion of freedom
I will summarize the rebuttals I have made in order to make it easier for my opponent and the voters to get the drift of where this debate is going,
*Con has come into this debate presenting only one actual argument and that is free speech infringement. He doesn’t even speak of the importance of said free speech over the importance of monitoring illegal information on the internet as he has clearly thrown that to the side before he even presented his argument and then decides to question the plausibility of it by simply calling it ‘sketchy’ without providing a case or examples proving that point.
*He decides to denounce anyone who supports affirming the resolution, (all of whom he’s categorized as either the government or media) following their own agendas, and assumes that the entire public has their own agenda to support free speech to the full extent, not considering the privacy that others may want which may be violated with incidents that may occur such as the exposure of private details or by directly sending them explicit material or calling them out with xenophobic hate messages or mail online. (All of which con has simply thrown away because he assumes monitoring illegal activities and censoring it appropriately is sketchy)
*His attempted assertion that governments will exploit censorship is flawed because he has justified it with the Chinese case which has two major loopholes –
- It comes to the conclusion that negating the resolution will protect lawbreakers from directly breaking Chinese law, which con is willing to accept in the name of free speech despite the fact that these people were well warned.
- “False information” or not, the internet will be monitored with or without affirming this resolution, the case does not prove how negating the resolution will prevent the arrests of these citizens as it will in fact increase them because then the Chinese government has a totally unaware population that they are monitoring from the shadows and as I have clearly shown, affirming the resolution should well and truly warn these citizens that they are not freely roaming the internet that they would be deceived into believing otherwise if it wasn’t censored.
*Finally, he contradicts his argument and even supports my policy by saying that everyone should have the right to free speech unless they break the law, which was clearly the case in both my US example and in his China example, which proves that con has not only shot himself in the foot but he’s even given me extra ammunition to shoot him in the other foot as well.
First of all it is already the law not to expose minors to or have them partake in any way in pornography. Therefore, it is irrelevant and doesn't change anything at all. Also, as far as I know these sites in question have things in place to ensure that the person is not a minor and knows that they need to be 18 to enter. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the parents to ensure their children's safety and well-being, not the world's. If a parent decides to allow their child to be online then they should be aware of what is out there and take the proper measures to ensure that they are only doing things apt for children. Either by applying their own filters or monitoring it in some way, etc.
Really all the argumentation falls into the same things. They are all illegal activities so it's really irrelevant. The things he mentions would be illegal to do whether in person, online, using flyers, or any means. Also, it all becomes a matter of subjective opinion. For example, what is "objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient" to me may be just fine to the next person.
"The protection of freedom of speech and expression against federal, state, and local government censorship are rooted in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. These protections extend to the Internet and as a result very little government mandated technical filtering occurs in the US."
This proposed action my opponent condones is a world-wide affair as per the debate discussion. However just in the US alone it could only be directed at something which is illegal already, otherwise it would undermine our constitution. So to take that stance is to support the destruction of our legal rights. So, not only is it a bad idea, but it is ILLEGAL in the US and some other countries to deny what is constituted as free speech.
What is ethical and what isn't? What is objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect, and inconvenient and what isn't? You will find that there is no standard authority for this and there will always be people in disagreement. Whether it be for political, religious, or whatever other reasons. I find it immoral, objectionable, harmful, sensitive, and inconvenient to allow abortion, yet, it is still legal. So who ends up deciding what is what? Who keeps this in check to prevent things from getting out of hand? What means do we have to ensure that there would be any fairness at all?
My opponent has not presented any reasoning as to how censorship would in any way benefit anybody besides greedy corporations or controlling governments. Again, the average person who actually uses the internet ends up with the shortest straw. I have on the other hand presented reasons as to why it is a bad idea and how it would literally destroy the internet as we know it, not to mention our rights as human beings. The whole point is the exchange of information across great distances if need be. Not to have to raise your hand and say mother may I before you can do anything. Or to have to worry about repercussions for saying something even if it isn't illegal. Or to not have access at all or the permissions necessary to have a site for whatever legal purpose you may have.
Furthermore, what my opponent suggests does nothing at all but hurt the average person. Much like gun control, which keeps guns out of the hands of upstanding citizens yet does nothing to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, who acquire them by illegal means anyways. A criminal can still find the means to do anything online by using proxies and things of that nature. Different places have different laws, therefore, what is illegal in one country may not be in another. So just because you keep a site from existing on a US server for instance that doesn't say that the same site can't be run on a server in the Netherlands. Even if you supposedly block said site from being accessed, as I already mentioned, you can easily run a proxy to circumvent these measures. We have everything to lose and nothing to gain.
Rule violation - My opponent has clearly argued about the semantics of the definition of censorship, an issue that should have not been brought in well into round three of this debate as he has unfairly tried to restrict the debate by stating that 'illegal activities' has nothing to do with the definition of censorship, my opponent accepted the definition presented which does encompass regarding illegal activities or so on, and not only is this a rule violation, it is also incorrect. The definition clearly states -
"The suppression of speech, public communication or other information which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient as determined by governments."
Now, I don't know about you, but unless you consider child pornography or extreme graphic violence not to be objectionable, harmful or sensitive then talking about illegal activities should be valid. It IS in the definition and if my opponent actually payed attention to the 'Big Issues' page on Debate.org he would see that the major opposition to giving full internet freedom is infact pornography. My opponent has not presented any valid rebuttals to any of my arguments simply because he has tried to tweak the semantics of this debate so that he could get away without convincing the voters.
So by getting that out of the away, let me crystallize my stance by addressing the less than sufficient rebuttals my opponent has made because of how long he has tried to state that my debate was invalid to the definition.
Defence - The exposure of the internet to minors
As I have cleared out before. despite it being the 'law' that child pornography is illegal, having no censorship at all on the internet does absolutely nothing to prevent minors or otherwise to see it. You can take legal charge against the person that publishes child pornography, but are you really trying to convince us that the government wouldn't TAKE DOWN the site that he published afterwards? Without censorship laws, you will not be able to prevent it from being seen by anyone on the internet. It's also hilarious to see that my opponent has stated that there are measures 'ensured' to prevent minors from finding porn, most pornography sites do not even have a SIGN-IN requirement to be accessed, or by the very least, does not even extensively prohibit people from finding it. This doesn't have to be sourced for people to agree with this, and for the issue of illegal porn, without censorship, what prevents publishers from OPENLY publishing it on the internet when we take these laws down? Child porn is something that is globally censored by many nations across the world, so before my opponent harps on what people consider to be ethical or not it is stated clearly that 94 of 187 Interpol member states have laws SPECIFICALLY targeting child pornography, while the rest address it anyway. [A]
So regarding whole argument about parents, let me directly quote what my opponent has said to illustrate my defence -
"Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the parents to ensure their children's safety and well-being, not the world's"
Lets apply this logic to my argument I made this whole time about the government's responsibility, with this quote I have taken from my opponent, why doesn't the government simply cut investing in education facilities for children? Since my opponent has tried to state that the government plays absolutely no role in protecting the well-being of children at all and hence all the trust should be left on the parents. I think not, and here's the facts -
A survey was taken by the Israeli Internet Association which clearly showed that most parents ARE indeed unaware of what exactly their child is doing on the internet, so how can we simply put the blame on the parents for not knowing what their children are doing 24/7 on the internet? [B]
And believe me, my opponent has no right to state they should know 'what is out there' when even I don't know what would happen if we took down all the laws concerning illegal activities on the internet and let people post stuff that even the deep web would consider inhumane on it. It is a frightening thought, especially since my opponent still believes that censorship only hurts the people and benefits only the government.
Defence - The law about censorship
Nothing was even directly addressed because once again my opponent believes that everything regarding 'illegal' activities is invalid, but let's get what he actually tried to deny straight.
First of all, my opponent has the nerve to once again quote the First Amendment when I have made it perfectly clear TWICE that there are already exceptions of free speech present in the US constitution or otherwise with the Children's Internet Protection Act and the Communications Decency Act. Both of my opponent did not address, questioning the plausibility of applying this same law to every single country in the world is not what I'm implying at all, the debate is regarding 'Does the internet need censorship' and I have clearly presented a strong case for this, but if my opponent wants to debate about it's practicality to drafting exceptions in every government in the world I want to question the plausibility of removing censorship laws in China, which is probably never going to happen, so let's stay on topic.
Little to no sources backed up any of my opponents claims, he has asserted that it's illegal to violate the laws on free speech, (Even though he's ignored that the exceptions do not violate it at all) in the US, which I have already addressed, or in some other countries, which he has not even talked about nor do we know anything about these 'other countries' that have laws protecting posting anything and everything on the internet.
Moreover, I should honestly get a dollar every time my opponent has resorted to saying 'average person' as an excuse to not post actual statistics, I mean, there is no rebuttal necessary for this, simply because it's a blind assumption that the average person is not going to benefit, which is clearly not the case, I shouldn't have to repeat my case to address this vagueness presented by my opponent.
He then concludes his argument by stating that because criminals will bypass the censorship law, we should simply not censor it at all since it's apparently hopeless. First of all, there are going to be loopholes in this, no one came into this debate saying this was going to be a foolproof plan to preventing illegal activities from being carried out, only that it would affirm the government's responsibility of taking steps against it, and that it would prevent the vast majority from posting illegal material and effectively enforcing the law on that respective nation's internet. Secondly, this is all brought forward to support my opponent's exaggerated comments on how it would -
"Literally destroy the internet as we know it, not to mention our rights as human beings"
Oh my dear god, you couldn't get any more dramatic in a Hollywood movie, exactly how has the censorship acts in the US that I've mentioned destroyed your way of life on the internet, much less violate your human rights? My opponent didn't even know there were such acts on the internet, and hence you can't simply start arguing that your life was ruined by them.
I will summarize in bullet points exactly what can be concluded about the need to censor on the internet,
*It affirms the government's role in protecting minors from unwanted damage
*It enforces the law regarding clearly inhumane and illegal acts such as child pornography from being posted
*It allows a smoother flow for the legal system as illegal acts on the internet have specific laws regarding them. (Unrebutted)
*It brings awareness to the citizens if they do not live in a country that leaves much freedom to them that there are laws they should be aware of.
*It does not harm the rights of free speech from those that abide by the law
Sources in comments
Soldier_4Christ forfeited this round.
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