As attempts to clear the Internet of disruptive and “harmful” content, the Nepal govt has decided to implement content filtering. To minimize the widespread of such inappropriate content, the budget is set as 1 Billion Rupees!
There have been a lot of opinions about this decision. And it is surely a topic of discussion too.
WHAT IS CONTENT FILTERING?
To understand if this decision makes sense or just a waste of resources, we should first be familiar with what content filtering refers to.
Content filtering is exactly what it sounds like. The entire content found on the internet is filtered. Sites and subjects that the Nepal govt deems inappropriate and harmful will be made unavailable.
A highly intensive version of content filtering’s example is China’s media. They don’t even have normal apps like Facebook, rather they have their Chinese version.
Although China’s example falls more under censorship, content filtering does work the same way. Removing access to certain parts of the Internet from the citizens of the country.
The first question to pop into anyone’s mind when they hear of this is definitely “why?”. Why all of a sudden this has to come into action?
Advocate Mr. Baburam Aryal has expressed his concern over this decision. He said that “Every government has had similar reservations on internet filtering. This is a recurrent policy of every government in power.”
He added the talk of internet monitoring has been a hot topic for every government since 2000 AD. He further criticized the government for not executing already established laws. Such as the Electronic Transaction Act, The Copyright Act, The Privacy Act, etc.
And thus questioned the government for preferring a separate technology that might potentially squeeze freedom of expression.
However, experts and many people seem to be suspicious about the objectives of this new implementation despite such claims made by Aryal.
Indiver Badal, former CEO of Nepal Internet Exchange says that people should be taught to use the Internet for productive and educative motives, rather than sharing and learning explicit content and information.
People also think that this might be because of the upcoming elections. They want to filter out manipulating or abusive content on the national leaders with the highly controversial elections and positional changes occurring.
Vijay Kumar Roy, the director of the authority claimed that they are studying how much content comes in from different ports in Nepal. And that based on the results, they intend to filter the Internet.
He also claims that they do not intend to control the content of any individual nor organization. However, this is not taken lightly by stakeholders. They are not convinced that their online businesses will not face any complications after this.
Many have expressed that content filtering is an unnecessary use of resources. They doubt the motives of the government officials implementing this system. More importantly just after the announcement of the elections. Many people also seem to believe that Nepal does not need to filter its Internet as extensively as it intends to.
Although avoiding cybercrime and negative influence on people is a great step forward. However, it may stand dangerously close to limiting people’s access and hence, freedom. Mr. Dilip Agarwal, WorldLink’s Chairperson, said that the government does not have much control over the filtering of resources. This is because, if the government deems content on Facebook to be inappropriate and wants to remove it, it is impossible without Facebook itself doing so. Hence, the efficiency of this new system also seems highly doubtful.
Foreigner vice president of CAN Federation of Nepal, Ms. Sunaina Pandey agrees to the intentions of the government. She supports the initiative saying that filtration will help in reducing cybercrimes.
We can see that the stakeholders seem to disagree with the filtering implementation whereas government officials seem to agree with it.
So what do you think about this decision?
Is it a step too big and unnecessary for Nepal to be taking considering its weak political and economic stature? Or is it a great leap forward in filtering and reducing the harmful effects of the Internet that is a great risk on its young users?
Or do you think there is a whole ulterior motive the government officials are not unfolding?
With so many different perspectives and reactions which one do you support and think is most sensible?