“The internet is not a public sphere. It is a private sphere that tolerates public speech” – Clay Shirky
The internet, whilst it may seem the perfect medium for free speech, the people in charge are often just businesses looking for profit and like all businesses can be often quite corrupt. Take media censorship of the internet in China, many websites are blocked and the ones that aren’t are highly filtered to follow the predetermined restrictions the government puts in place.
You may ask, why would the businesses of china controlling the internet comply? Well, often businesses are just that and their power in comparison to the state is little to none. This power balance is not the only way in which the government control the media for example the ruling bodies go as far as to hand out ‘self discipline’ awards to company’s that comply with the strict regulatory enforcements put in place.
This regulation is not unique to the authoritarian east, the democratic west is also partaking in these regimes, dozens of countries across the east partake in what’s described as state sponsored censorship, where the government funds private sector companies to be self regulatory. This may not seem as if its that big of a deal but when the internet is proclaimed the medium of free speech, it comes into question.
Companies as big as Google have been approached by various countries asking to block or remove content, fortunately in 2010 they decided to release data on the requests made by particular governments and how often they comply. This type of governmental control is difficult to avoid for companies especially when they are already under pressure to conform to existing laws, particular countries can almost entirely remove huge corporations for example China.