Will Donald Trump Censor the Internet 600
All through his presidential campaigns, Donald Trump made various comments in regards to the internet. Most of these remarks were taken as a threat to the freedom and privacy people enjoy over the web. The main question on people’s minds is, will Trump certainly censor the internet?
The Donald Trump presidency has come with its fair share of trouble and controversies in regards to the internet. While some of his staunch supporters may claim that he is often misquoted, others blame his seeming lack of knowledge on the internet and his staunch opposition to modern technology as the reason behind his worrying comments. After his inauguration, the whole of America, and indeed the world at large is watching and waiting to see which direction the Trump administration will take in regards to this matter.
Should Donald Trump decide to censor the internet, the USA will not be the first country to walk down this path. In countries like China and Turkey, access to some popular websites is denied by the government. Worse still, individuals’ activities over the internet are under active surveillance. Whereas some argue that censorship is a matter of national security and a necessary evil, the majority feel that it is an infringement on their right to information.
Some people have been quick to quote the law, claiming that it will prohibit the said censorship. However, emerging details indicate that there are certain laws that Trump could invoke to legalize the internet censorship. Of particular interest is Section 606 of the Communications Act of 1934, which allows the president to seize control of communication facilities in case of declaration of a war threat or a state of public peril. A Senate report of 2010 concluded that indeed the president has the authority to take over communications and if need be shut down a network. Although the law has never been applied to the internet, nothing prevents it from being used to control the same.
All the president needs to invoke this law is advice from his attorney general. From the appointments made to the Attorney General’s office and other security offices, a majority of the people are saying that it is only a matter of when and not if. However, only time will tell if this will indeed be the case. Additionally, the spirited war on various Obama administration legislations is an indicator that the laws passed to protect against such an occurrence could be revised any time, paving the way for internet censorship.
One of President Trump’s first actions in office was trying to drive cyber security a notch higher. Whereas this is a positive move in regards to security, the stakeholders appointed to various agencies overseeing these security measures are a point of concern. Some critics believe that the issue has been blown out of proportion, creating an environment that could easily incubate the thoughts of censorship to the internet.
Whereas focus is on direct censorship, internet censorship could also be implemented directly. Trump has been very vocal on the matter of changing the policies governing net neutrality and regulations governing ISPs and data. While the business community widely supports the move to reclassify broadband from a public utility to an information service, it could end up implementing internet censorship indirectly. Charging broadband as an information service will open up an avenue for paid prioritization and blocking. This move will mean that consumers will pay more to enjoy wide access to internet services.
With a majority of the population unable to afford unlimited access to the internet, availability of information will be controlled from the top. What better way to ensure internet censorship than directly controlling what the people can access?
Whereas there has been no official communication to authorize Internet censorship, there are clear indications of every intention to do so. Indeed, only time will tell if this threat will become a reality.