Good Example Of Preserving Culture Through Internet Censorship In The UAE Essay
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The internet is very important part in the daily lives for the majority of people throughout the world. Most people cannot imagine how they would do many of the daily duties without use of the Internet. The question of the United Arab Emirates using internet censorship to preserve the culture of the country is the focus of the paper. The internet is a place that almost anything can be found, and sometimes this can be a problem that interferes with the beliefs of different cultures and religions. The essay will explain the use of internet censorship, the culture of the UAE, the two sides of the argument in censorship of the internet in the UAE, and the final position that makes most sense that using censorship in the United Arab Emirates will preserve the culture of the people.
Internet censorship is a problem that many governments in the world have accepted as part of the decision of how to manage internet information. The policies to censor many topics by many countries from the beginning even before the ‘dotcom’ crash (Bambauer, 2013). The countries that chose to practice this method were considered morally ignorant by the rest of the world (Bambauer, 2013). However, after 2006-2007 democratic nations also started to use censorship to protect their own citizens from issues, such as intellectual property violation and protecting the youth from negative images (Bambauer, 2013). Internet censorship is a reality in almost every nation throughout the world. The purpose of Internet censorship is ultimately removing the decision from the user to withhold information according to what a government thinks is appropriate for their citizens to view. This is the main argument for the decision of the UAE to censor what can be seen online in the country. The counter argument by critics from other nations says that unfortunately harsh punishments in certain countries that are happening against the citizens who are against the policy, is not acceptable by the global community (Clinton, 2012).
One cannot ignore the nature of the Islamic culture in regard to the choice made by the United Arab Emirates government regarding Internet censorship. Consideration and respect for the culture of the people and their beliefs should be a factor in the argument for Internet censorship. The Arab culture is known for the observance of the Muslim religion and living in accordance with Islamic law. “The religion also professes that the temporal community should be governed by a just leader who makes decisions through consultation” (Riel, n.d.). This fact is important in understanding the position that the citizens of the UAE may take in terms of their willingness to accept the laws that are enacted by the rulers of their nation. The concepts of government laws are part of the religion, which is clearly a large part of the culture (Riel, n.d.). In addition, the culture of Muslims values discretion in their behavior, such as the interaction between men and women, and the preference of conservative attire, all of which is common practice according to the laws of Islam. It is not difficult to empathize with the sentiment of those who wish to censor what is seen online for fear of corrupting the citizens through images and ideas that go against their belief system, which could be disruptive to their society. Many of the cultural practices that have been observed for hundreds of years are at risk of changing as the younger generations are exposed to the lifestyle of nations, such as the United States. Using the U.S. as an example, the freedom to dress as the citizens want, drinking alcohol, and intermingling of men and women is common practice here. If the people in the UAE begin to see the traditions and cultures of other societies, they may begin to question their own. If they find what they see on the Internet appealing, they may move away from their own cultural practice and rebel towards one that is foreign to their country. The argument for censorship with this backdrop makes sense and is understandable when perceived through this lens. “According to authorities, the main reason for the implementation of UAE Internet censorship is that some sites are not consistent with the cultural, religious, political and, most especially, moral values of the nation” (UAE ISP Internet Censorship: Just the Facts, 2014). Another popular site that is not allowed in the country is Skype.
Now one must also think of the argument against censorship in the UAE for preserving the culture. Culture is something that is all around the people of the UAE, and to think that they will give up something so valuable to their life just by what they see on the internet is an insulting theory. The strong religious belief of the people should be enough to keep them from falling into any negative traps that the images and information online expose. The other problem is the limitation of information that could be important. For example, Skype is a very popular online tool that many individuals around the world can use for important things like interviews. By censoring this site, many citizens of the UAE are missing out on a very basic and convenient item that is used worldwide. This type of censorship holds the citizens back from receiving the full scope of information that is available to others. The censorship might also keep foreigners away from the UAE since they do not want their rights to be controlled by the government.
The issue with the internet censorship and a loss of human rights concerns democratic countries that strongly support human rights and freedom of choice. By allowing countries like the UAE to censor certain sites that are available to their citizens, there is a tyranny placed on the people as well as the creators of websites who are expressing their ideas through their websites on the internet. Based on the opinion of these governments who preach the idea of freedom of speech as a human right for all, the choice for censorship in the UAE is a removal of the people’s rights. “As described by the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the right to free, uncensored speech is a basic human right, as is the right to privacy. The Internet is the bane of all human development and our collective future. Putting restrictions on it will only result in large scale conflict and revolt which is detrimental to the well-being of both parties. If any single entity happens to take control of the Internet then the following is most likely to happen: 1) They will be able to observe, modify, block, delay, replay, and modify the traffic according to their wishes. 2) No transparency would exist as all information would be censored, or only misinformation would be disseminated. These entities will obviously only publish that information which will be in their favor.3) They will have complete unrestricted access over the data stored and transmitted from all Internet connected computers and smart-phones. 4) The new laws might legally enforce all cryptographic keys to have inbuilt flaws so that they would be remotely exploitable by these entities” (Khanna, Dhingra, Choudhary, 2013).
The opposing argument here would be that the opinion of human rights according to one group might not be the same ideas that other nations support. The UAE might feel that allowing the information from the sites they wish to censor in the country would be against the rights of the citizens of the UAE. The rights of the people in this country might be connected to their traditional, cultural and religious beliefs that are taken away by letting the images and messages on the internet taint their minds. So human rights are a matter of perception, and it would be up to the people within a nation to make that decision based on what the people of the country believe is right for them.
One must agree that the culture of the people living in the United Arab Emirates is influenced by their exposure to what is seen online. In any situation when people are exposed to new information, it can change the mindset of the individual. Regardless of what position any group or individuals belong to, there will always be propaganda associated with freedom of expression. With this understanding, it is reasonable for the government of the UAE to choose censorship of particular sites in hopes to preserve the culture. The majority of people living in the country are practicing religious law, which preaches that following government laws are necessary in accordance with Islam. Therefore, it is not for outsiders to decide what is acceptable as a freedom of human rights for these people who are accustomed to this way of life.
The difficulty in the argument of Internet censorship as a loss of human rights is tricky because of the universal connection and availability that it provides to citizens of the world as they can obtain and share information. Declaring it as a ‘human rights’ issue for all makes sense to many people; however, how can anyone question the decisions of a country to find whatever means they deem necessary to take care of traditions and cultures that are older than the Internet by hundreds of years. For this reason, the choice by the UAE to censor what is accessible on the internet for the citizens of their country is a decision that must be respected and left to the discretion of the people who are directly affected.
The issues involving internet censorship are complicated and depend on the position of one’s perspective and beliefs. The United Arab Emirates is a country that has taken the measures of limiting what sites are accessible to view online in their country in an attempt to preserve their culture. Considering the modesty of the deeply religious culture of the UAE, and the strict laws and regulations of the country, it should not surprise anyone of the government’s decision on internet censorship. Because of the complexities of the cultural and religious beliefs of the people living in the UAE, the internet censorship should remain the decision of the majority whom the regulations are affecting. I support the right for the government of the United Arab Emirates to censor the Internet in their country if the people living in the UAE accept it. If the censorship is a problem for their citizens, it is up to the people of that country to voice their opinions and find a resolution with the government. The democratic countries should not impose their views on the policies that are practiced that do not match their own government policies. The conclusion to the response of whether or not internet censorship is helping to preserve the culture in the United Arab Emirates is that, yes the censorship is preserving culture. The choice of internet censorship by the UAE government is helping to keep traditions and practices safe for the citizens of the country and should not be questioned or forced by outsiders to change the rules.
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