The internet, as a social medium, has become a plethora of complex intricacies that allows the average person have a say in what happens locally, politically and socially in any given society. Moreover, it has opened up the discourse - that was not prevalent before - of communicating across boarders that permitted the normal silent voices, to be heard regionally and globally.
There are of course, vulnerable aspects to the use of the internet. Case in point is how the Russian government is approaching the notion that unregulated information sharing may offer a threat to a nation’s security via terrorism and extremisms. President Vladimir Putin, and the Russian government equate such threats under one umbrella. That is, there are extremist and terrorist organizations in multitudes of cultures and societies, but that disenfranchised groups or entities that now voice their opinions are also becoming a threat to the establishment and the social, economic and political apparatus in Russia.
With the advent of the internet, more people now have a voice in what is discussed, regionally and globally. Bloggers who are now becoming an active voice that many people listen to or read, are viewed as a threat, and by political standards, should be a regulated media entity similar to those in the traditional media outlets (newspaper, radio, TV).
Unlike traditional media outlets, bloggers are not regulated. They have no guidelines or scripts to follow. The subscribers or participants follow no control or regulation that currently inhibits the notion of free and open discussion. However, with a number of bills proposed by the Russian government that equates bloggers as media outlets brings forth the notion that contributors to blog sites (even though they may be a basement dweller/participant) somehow poses some national security threat.
Take for granted that we live in a dangerous world, where subversive elements within a given society want to change or unhinge a political apparatus. Does a so-called democracy infringe on the rights of the civilian population to voice their disconnection to how politics is affecting a country mean, that the powers that have the right to store information that is posted, is somehow subversive to a nation? Does that take away from the operators of a respective website that is innocuous having an open forum for social, economic or political discussion is somehow viewed as a national threat?
However, should a media outlet or a blog site be restricted by or regulated by a government? If they are regulated, does that mean that truth and open discussion are inhibited because of the content being restricted? Does such restriction allow an abuse of power by the government that directs and controls what is discussed and what is allowed to be discussed subjugate democracy and how a society is governed?
Whether a democratic, socialist or a dictator political apparatus, governments look and listen to what the populous is listening and reading, and especially, what they are saying; modern technology allows such “so-called” infringements to occur. It does question as to whether a democratic society is allowed to express and in put their opinions into the rationale of the forward movement of their government and society. Furthermore, do citizens contribute to changes that occur, or is that left to the holders of economic and political power? And this is the crux of the argument as to who really controls the direction of a country; the political powers or those who vote and elect.
A famous quote by Thomas Jefferson concerning the relationship between the government and the people states, “When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” Therefore, a politically democratic society follows established rules of relationships and communication with the political apparatus and society. They are given freedom of expression and freedom of speech that may not be “infringed” upon. Russia’s written constitution follows a similar structure regarding rights and liberties. But Putin and the government are eroding this section of the constitution according to Amnesty International.
One thing is certain though, when a government fears such discussion and discourse that it requires data and information to be stored for police records, you therefore have a government that feels threatened and vulnerable to the disconcerted members that they fear them, those internally, more so than external threats. Then, Jefferson’s belief that a government fearing the people means that liberty occurrence does not hold true in the case of Russia.
Jeffrey Mcavinn, Alan David St firstname.lastname@example.org
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