The internet is a network of computer networks of global scope linked by an array of networking technologies ranging from wireless, electrical and optical networking technologies. The internet is so far the biggest source of information in almost about anything. It gives both objective and subjective views on any public or common issue one can possibly think of. It is also one of the greatest means of communication especially in the formal world. It has been a source of every kind of advice with how to websites being numerous and also a marketing platform for so many things.
The internet is open to everyone in terms of access and in terms of who gets to post information in it. This information is available to everyone who can read or who can access the internet. Such a globally huge network needs to be regulated. However the question is how to regulate it. What determines what can and cannot be posted on the internet? What determines who can or cannot access certain websites? What regulations need to be put in place to protect internet viewers from false information or fro swindlers and conmen? Most importantly however is the role of the government in internet.
Internet standards usually are set by the internet engineering task force. Before creating an internet standard a certain process is followed. This process is challenging due to a couple of reasons such as the need to consider the interest of all affected parties. These parties include the target party as well as any other persons likely to access the information. Gauging the nature of the influence of this material on the persons who access it is also difficult. The task force is required to strike a balance between protecting the parties involved, ensuring there are no negative repercussions due to selfish motives by the providers of the material and allowing freedom of communication.
There is also the difficulty of creating high technical quality specifications. This usually calls for expertise and staying abreast with yup to date technology and technological changes. It also involves the difficult task of keeping up with changes in people’s preferences and what information is on demand. Then there is the responsibility of establishing widespread community consensus and gaining consent from numerous parties. Gauging the utility or satisfaction derived from an internet standard specification is also a major challenge. While one community may derive satisfaction from a certain specification another community may derive disutility (Naik 78).
When it comes to a liberal open to everyone site like the internet there is bound to be just as much negative influence and material as there will be positive material and influence. In such cases the government is expected to step in and protect its citizens through regulation and policy. However in this era and with the existence of powerful corporations there are so many people involved in internet standards. These people are not necessarily unbiased people with the citizens' interests at heart but often are people out to benefit financially out of the internet. However it has been witnessed that corporations and private entities will more often than not ignore negativities generated by the material they post on the web especially if it earns them money. That is the reason we require an unbiased government that puts into consideration the majority of people’s well being when setting internet standards. (Wikipedia 28)
The internet standard specification process aims at openness and fairness, timelessness, prior testing and implementation, clear, concise and easy to understand documentation and technical excellence. Clearly these goals have not been met fully and their efficiency deteriorates progressively hence the need for government intervention. These standards have been influenced often by powerful corporations who are not keen to observe the standards above. The government is expected to be the voice of the majority who so to speak do not have say over what the internet provides. It also needs to curb the increasing unreliability of information on the internet.
The internet more than anything risks losing its credibility. If everyone is allowed to post any subjective view without proving the authenticity of the material it makes the internet an increasingly unreliable source of information and also ruins chances for authentic information to reach people. If the government keeps overlooking internet offences such as theft or the sale of illegal, dangerous or harmful products then the internet loses credibility as a marketing platform and genuine product marketers lose out. There exists a lot of false advice and as much as the population should know better than to try everything they see online, every material that has harmful potential should not be allowed a position online (Connolly 99).
Then there is the issue of children’s access to the internet. Movies and song videos are increasingly featuring scenes that are not suitable for children and teenagers. Pornographic material is readily available in the internet and teenagers increasingly prematurely gain access to this material. The government would be acting on behalf of many parents if they could ensure this material is not accessed by children or teenagers at all.
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The current problem the government is dealing with concerning the internet is the problem of interoperability. This refers to the ability of diverse system networks to inter operate or to work together without any restrictions in terms of accessibility. Usually this problem arises when a corporation comes up with an internet idea and other corporations copy it. The likelihood of the two operating peacefully is very low. An example would be face book connect and OpenID which both enable one to take their identity with them all over the web. Facebook connect opened way after OpenID and took over a large share of the population sparking problems between the two.
However, there are also a couple of advantages associated with the government’s non-involvement. Part of the internet’s uses is to create a platform where people communicate and collect different views from different people and the greater the diversity the better. The good thing about the material posted on the internet is that it is not forced on anyone and therefore everyone is solely responsible for whatever impact this material has on them. As a result it has been the best source of information on various lifestyles, cultures and happenings around the world. There cannot be specific criteria for judging what the readers or people accessing the internet want therefore anything goes (Keller 45).
Restrictions on the material that should be posted on the internet would then mean that many people would not access information they would have wanted to otherwise, beating the whole purpose of the internet. The government would also interfere with the internet as a business platform by creating bureaucracy and making it harder to conduct business online.
In summary the government needs to be involved in monitoring the internet for the greater good if nothing else. The pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to the government monitoring the internet. Especially in cases where the population is exposed to harmful influence be it in information or in false swindling businesses, the government is the only entity that can ensure this does not happen. If the internet is not well monitored people may lose their faith in it for example, Wikipedia is no longer a reliable source of information due to the fact that anyone can add or edit information therein and there is no governing authority to validate the material posted.