Splinternet – Online Censorship on the rise

The Splinternet could be happening, and this is what we understand about it…

Recently, American security concerns of Chinese applications and companies has led to US government officials wishing to remove Chinese influence. Therefore, this would result in online Chinese products being removed / blocked from being accessed in the USA.

US Secretary of State has stated he wants a “clean” internet and that “People’s Republic of China apps threaten our privacy, proliferate viruses, and spread propaganda and disinformation”.

Chinese applications have been criticised for security failings in the past, WeChat and TikTok in particular due to the popularity of both apps. WeChat censors’ content for users with Chinese phone numbers, even if they move abroad or change to an international phone number. Those not registered to China are subject to “Passive content surveillance”.
WeChat has also censored topics such as 2019 Hong Kong local elections and the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in 2020.

This isn’t the first time a nation has banned applications from other countries other security concerns; China has long maintained the so called “Great Firewall of China”, banning companies that don’t bend to china’s tough censorship laws. This means that large numbers of US companies cannot operate in the PRC (People’s Republic of China).
More recently India banned 59 Chinese applications and websites over security concerns and escalating tensions with China.

However, this has led some critics to warn of the creation of a “Splinternet”, where the global internet is broken up into smaller, more regional blocks, controlled by state governments. This move would massively change what we define as the internet and how it functions.

Limiting communication between different continents via the internet will damage the freedom of the internet and will be taking away a person’s right to Freedom of expression, as defined under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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