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Editorial: Threats of censorship in Iceland indicative of larger problems

By Editorial Board
On February 19, 2013

  • Co-captain Danny Lansanah, of Harrisburg, Pa., is the anchor of the Huskies' linebacking core.

The Interior Minister's office in Iceland is working to block pornography on the Internet in the country in an attempt to make the children of the nation less violent. The Interior Minister's office claims that they are unable to keep pornography out of the sight of children. Once the children see the pornography, they attempt to imitate it and therefore, the country has a problem with youth violence as a result of porn.
If the excuse sounds flimsy, that's only because it is. Iceland is a notoriously conservative nation. With a population of 322,000, a number similar to the size of St. Louis according to CNN, Iceland is able to pass many very strict laws banning things that most democratic western nations would deem heavy handed. For example, porn has been banned in print for quite some time and the country recently outlawed strip clubs citing that the establishments, by their very nature, could not accommodate the rights of the women who work in them. So it will not be a huge surprise for the world if they are able to outlaw pornography. What will be a bit of a surprise is if they are logistically able to block Internet pornography in an entire nation.
At the moment the tentative plans would be to not allow the purchase of subscriptions to porn sites from credit cards tied to Iceland. Following that, it's a matter of placing adequate blocks on IP addresses of noteworthy porn sites.
Iceland is in a unique position to actually accomplish this ban and become one of the first western democratic societies to adopt ideas on restrictions to the Internet. It is typically the pattern for nations in the west to be all about the freedom of speech that comes with the idea of Internet neutrality and openness. For a nation that doesn't fit into the same social structure or government style as, say, Egypt, China or North Korea, an effort to block anything on the Internet seems strange and out of place.
Although Iceland is a special circumstance given that it's in a social and structural position to peacefully make this ban a reality, a western democracy choosing the path of censorship is nothing to scoff at. This is about more than trying to impose one nation's beliefs on another. It is a matter of principle that the Internet be a place that free nations of the world can go to exercise their freedom - which means taking the good with the often unseemly. Iceland has a right to govern its people and police any content that it wishes. Having said that, there are larger implications to Internet censorship. These implications create a ripple affect that is felt by the entire world. Believe it or not, the Internet means something to the future of our planet and it's connectedness. While banning porn is a minor pebble in the pond, sometimes it only takes a pebble to cause problems.
 


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