Governments worldwide explore internet management

By Ai Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2018/4/1 23:03:40

Reining in social media appears to be the trend of governments. The US State Department proposed last week that nearly all visa applicants to the US be required to submit personal details about the usage of their social media accounts in the past five years, as an attempt to prevent terrorism.

It is not entirely new. The US started collecting social media identities from select foreign visitors by the end of 2016. Previously, only 0.5 percent of visa applicants were asked to fill out the form. But if the new plan is passed and takes effect, nearly all applicants will have to do so.

Many critics believe the move will violate people's privacy and crack down on free speech. Some are raising the question: Freedom and security, which is more important?

Convenience is not the only thing social media has brought to the world. Freedom of speech has led to the spread of inflammatory information.

In April last year, a 37-year-old US man who killed a senior citizen in Cleveland on Facebook Live caused quite a stir.

The internet could fuel a rise in hate crimes by promoting discrimination against certain social groups.

Terror groups are also using social media platforms to spread their propaganda, recruit members and gather intelligence.

That's why governments worldwide have been trying to enhance their regulations over social media during the latter's emergence. In France, for instance, one could face penalties of up to one year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros ($55,500) for publishing illegal content on social media.

But what should be the standard of social media regulation? The world has not reached a consensus. In the meantime, the Western world won't miss any opportunity to defame China over the issue, saying Beijing's management over the Internet is strangling privacy and human rights.

If there is anything we can learn from the latest Facebook's data privacy scandal, it is that major tech companies are information monopolies and they are powerful. Without proper supervision and management from the government, they will simply take their customers' privacy as no big deal.

Loopholes in internet regulation have exposed users to greater risks from extreme groups and privacy abuse by big corporations. Both are calling on the government to strengthen management.

When people's freedom and data are abused on the internet, there could be no privacy or safety. Quite a few nations have adopted relevant rules and laws to take online rumors, business fraud and violence under control.

The good news is the world is on the same page over this: when security is at risk, regulative steps from the government are needed.



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