In the globalization era, it’s not surprising to find some countries applying very restrictive policies on the internet, the so-called internet censorship.
These measures are not only related to political or moral issues, as they also affect the global economy.
Let’s look at the different implications of internet censorship in online business around the world.
WHO, WHEN AND WHY
Although it might seem the main reasons behind this practice are political, there’s more than one side to consider.
· The Middle East countries are well known for their restrictive policies when it comes to media (and internet).
After the Arab spring, some countries have loosened their strict codes (like Tunisia). Sadly, most have remained the same or even decided to enforce stricter regulations.
In a similar fashion, the situation in Turkey has changed for the worse. After the failed coup of 2016, the government is using both censorship tactics and penal code to curb free expression.
Others use more subtle tactics. For example, the Chinese government is more interested in detecting and suffocating potential social protests than censoring critical opinions.
Russia also introduced more restrictive policies in 2014.
· How does internet censorship affect the economy? (Locally and globally).
Some governments use pretty extreme measures to control the flow of information accessible to the population. And in more than one case, the main reason for the restrictions is financial. Click To Tweet
The effects on the online economy might range from mild to harsh. As expressed by Pavel Durov after his “resignation” from VK.com in Russia: “Unfortunately the country is incompatible with internet business at the moment”.
In many countries, companies offering VOIP services are blocked to prevent competition and loss of revenue.
In China, the massive Sina Weibo has been struggling for years to stop the users from abandoning the platform but the government is making this task very difficult by passing new controversial laws.
The popular messaging platform WeChat is facing similar challenges.
NEW POLICIES FOR A NEW WORLD
· Nevertheless, one the most remarkable example of protectionism in the internet era is the Great Firewall, a sophisticated censorship system set up by the Chinese government that filters and blocks information considered harmful. It’s not surprising that many foreign services are blocked (Facebook and Twitter among others). Beyond the political motivations, there’s an interest in developing national counterparts (such as Baidu and Alibaba) to replace Western companies; this might be the case for the recent Pinterest blocking, while Google seems to be making a slow comeback to the Chinese market.
You will find more statistics at Statista
- How to improve the present situation with new rules: the over-restrictive regulations seem to harm innovation (especially in emerging economies). While traditionally restrictive countries might be loosening some of their strict policies, others are surprisingly going in the very opposite direction. Definitely, we need better policies for a globalized and evolving world. Check the video below exploring the challenges of the new hyper-connected economy.