Recently, it was published by Edward Snowden that 90 percent of those monitored by the NSA are your average everyday internet users while only 10 percent have been suspected of some sort of crime pertaining to internet usage.  Many would frown upon this idea that the government and indeed, agencies such as the NSA and GCHQ can effectively survey our every move on the internet while others could welcome it, given the so called ‘rise in threat from terrorist attacks’ or under the guise of ‘protecting the children.’

What I’m referring to here are particular laws that lobbyists, in particular parents, want to persuade the government to enforce in the vast enigma we know as cyberspace. What do these laws refer to? Well in the last two years or so, more and more parents are calling for legislation to punish those who cyber bully online and as well as that, there have been calls to ban pornographic websites outright (as well as those that teach about LGBT issues and sexual education) because apparently they have this magical effect that demoralizes children and turns them into savages. Yes, people are likely to get bullied online and I’m by no means stating that is a good thing and yes, your child may accidentally stumble onto material which wasn’t meant for them, but is this enough to justify bringing in such measures?

First off and the most irksome thing which bothers me about this in particular, is that parents should at the very least know the basics of the internet and more specifically, how to filter content for their children. Why is this irksome? The fact of the matter is that if you are going to grant a child the privilege of the internet, you should at least know how it works first, not promote legislation which hinders everyone else’s rights just because you couldn’t find out how to filter your child’s internet via parental controls. If you’re unsure, I’m sure you could ask anyone around you, even your neighbours, the internet has become so abundant these days that nearly everyone with a PC knows how to use it.

Secondly, in regards to cyber bullying, if you are giving your child access to social media then it is your responsibility to make sure the security settings are in place and if hateful comments are abound then you can simply block the person writing them or delete any comments directed towards you. Of course it is a different matter when dealing with threats but even then there is an option to report their account to the police if that rare situation arises.

The internet is not some paragon of the highest moral standards set by today’s society, in fact it can be quite the opposite, at times it can be safe and educational, at other times it can be dark, malicious and full of the nastiest people and trolls anyone has ever encountered. Does that give the government  the right to legislate censorship of the internet or allow for mass surveillance? No. If it’s the case that people are making threats, report them to the police (the site thinkuknow do a great job of giving information on this), any other form of cyber bullying tends to be ‘trolling’ which can be avoided by deleting comments, blocking said people or just not acknowledging them.

The main issue for many of us who use the internet on a regular basis is that parents need to be aware of the consequences of the legislation they want to put forward, yes, it may protect your kids, but your own surveillance and guidance can do that too without potentially turning us into a  police state if we aren’t at that stage already with current findings. It is our consent and your consent that allows the government to do this and people need to learn how to use the internet safely and to stand up to governments that conform to this kind of surveillance. Isn’t it better to keep your rights online and freedom of speech than be monitored by the state?

It’s time that we fight against mass surveillance and teach ourselves and future generations how to use the internet and how to simply turn things off when things get too hairy, we cannot let the efforts of people like Edward Snowden go to waste and we can no longer sit idly by while this is ongoing.


References:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23401076
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jul/27/observer-editorial-internet-legislation-porn
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/03/david-cameron-internet-porn-filter-censorship-creep
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-28182494  – Relating to new information from Edward Snowden
https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/ Handy for parents who want to know how to protect Children online and also gives advice to children and teenagers on staying safe.
http://www.pcworld.com/article/2042233/how-to-child-proof-the-internet.html – Link for parents on web-filtering.