We can easily read others’ thoughts or express our opinions by just connecting on the internet through a smartphone and a computer. As you know, we can freely share our thoughts without limits of time and space, which may be the biggest benefit for our generation. However, if we trace our history, this freedom could be good as a part of the continuous development of our civilization, but at same time, it could be as evil as fist fights and killings. In the latter case, humans have made some regulations to take precautions against it. Ironically, the regulations against freedom have their own good and evil, again.
Following the above context, the Hongik Writing Competition, which was held in the first semester of 2017, discussed the freedom of modern online society and its censoring. The students who participated on the contest presented a variety of opinions. The following are the winning essays of each level of the Writing Competition, which have two opposite points of view about “Censoring Websites.”
Intermediate Level Winner
Kim Jinwon B312023 firstname.lastname@example.org
One would not want to imagine a world without the internet, especially in the century we are living in. Nowadays, almost any task is completed through a few clicks on the web. Sending credit to a close friend, booking a plane ticket to Ibiza, and even purchasing a brand-new Mercedes Benz car can be done in a matter of minutes with the internet. As efficient and useful as the internet can be, one can also use it for negative or illegal purposes, such as pornography and online gambling. Thus, governments around the world have put restrictions on certain websites that they think are harmful for society. One might oppose the decision and say that everyone should have the right to have access to all websites. However, I personally think the government should be allowed to censor websites for three reasons. Censoring websites is helpful for children, reduces illegal online activity, and protects copyrights.
These days, humans are so technology-friendly that kids from a very young age are taught how to use technology, such as smartphones and computers. Most parents think that it is necessary to introduce their children to as much technology as possible. Yes, the internet is useful for children as they can have access to more information and learn more about the world. However, the truth is that there are as many harmful websites out there as there are useful ones. Parents would not be very happy when they see their ten-year-old son looking at sexual scenes through the web. Some kids might even be purchasing alcohol illegally online if all websites were to be open. Therefore, the government placing restrictions on websites is necessary for children of the young age.
As I mentioned earlier, there are tons of illegal websites out there that can be harmful to people. Although it is almost impossible to block all these illegal websites, the government can reduce illegal activity by censoring some, if not most of these websites. If there were to be no restrictions on any website, people would be too open to illegal online activities, such as pornography, gambling and downloading media illegally. For example, online gambling is considered illegal in South Korea and people are punished severely if they get caught. Since a few years ago, the government has censored websites related to gambling and results have shown that illegal online gambling has reduced significantly.
Finally, placing restrictions on websites by the government can help to protect copyrights. Copyright has always been an important issue as copying or using the ideas of others is considered a crime. With the invention of the internet, people from all around the world have access to others’ properties. Some websites even allow people to download media such as movies, music or reports for free without the permission of the owner. Even office applications such as “Microsoft Office” can be downloaded for free illegally when they are supposed to be purchased legally at a set price.
One might argue that the government could be censoring websites solely for its own benefits. I partly agree with the statement as the government might be blocking people from having access to websites that only it wants them to have access to. However, censoring websites has other beneficial effects to society, such as helping children and their parents, reducing illegal activities, and protecting copyrights.
Advanced level winner
Lee Jeongpyo B057029 email@example.com
There was an incident that the former Korean government made a public officer manipulate people’s opinions as they commented in the bulletin boards in some websites. People who are not informed about the article can believe what they read. I am strongly against the opinion that the government should be allowed to censor websites.
First of all, a government censor can cause damage to freedom to express their thought or opinion. If we live in a democratic country such as South Korea, the government should protect our thought or opinion against the censors. Our democracy has not grown up enough in comparison with the fast-economic growth. However, through the candlelight protest, they expressed diverse opinions in a peaceful and assertive way. We need to know how to practice and co-exist with others who have totally different views of life. In this way, citizens can produce a well-balanced and thoughtful culture which is necessary for our countries’ development in the future.
Secondly, the government should ease the regulations and laws in preparation for the 4th Generation industry. This is a huge change of our society and business. It is not easy to predict the effects of 4th Generation, so the censorship of government could be an unnecessary obstacle. For example, cities in the USA are connecting with each other through the internet and they share the infrastructure, such as education, public transportation, hospitals and so on. We call this a “Smart city” and this connection cannot be realized within the former regulations and censors. This paradigm shift can happen easily and smoothly when the government tries to understand and acknowledge the situation which is really happening these days. If the government cares about small thing like the censorship on websites, the government must take a risk to lose big opportunities.
Thirdly, it is easy to manipulate people who are not critical about information on websites. The censorship can be done in an advantageous way to government so as to hide corruption or scandals. For example, the government use an entertainer scandal or incident to make people to put their attention to the scandal or incident. Some well-noticed people can catch the political issues, but more people will believe what the government said. This can reduce the critical way of thinking to accept the information. This may affect the election without exact and well-balanced information and facts under government censorship. Government should not control the fundamental and crucial right for their benefits.
We’ve seen a lot of corruption, and with most of the corruption, the government uses censorship to control people not a violent way, but in an intelligent way. Websites are platforms to share their thoughts actively. Freedom of websites will raise the citizen culture, prepare the 4th Generation industry and prevent manipulation by the government. The democracy should be achieved by ourselves, not under the government control.
- Notice: These writing competition essays were revised slightly to fit the Hongik Tidings format.
Park Jiwon Wldnjs971105@naver.com
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