Internet Censorship: For Your own Good?

internet censorship

Warmer questions

  1. Do you believe that newspapers and national media reveal all that they know?
  2. Do governments have a right to protect their own reputation by not revealing all information?
  3. Is information a human right or a luxury?

Reading section

Closing the door to censorship

In days gone by people would say ‘we built this civilization on the internet’. It would be hard to criticise them for making such a remark, without it we would be largely handicapped by the sheer volume of data we need to wade through and edit. There are currently 4 billion users with the bulk now coming from Asia and growing! Without having the internet it becomes a lot harder to stay informed. We literally have access to the entire archive of the Natural History Museum, British Museum, the finest collection of manuscripts, and just about anything else you can possibly imagine. With these tools, we are able to make better decisions simply because we know more about the world we are presently living in. Barriers between people, culture, language, and concepts are being broken down and a new global civilization is emerging. The hope that people can forever be united and peacefully co-operate can happen.

Then why are more and more countries trying to censor, snoop on and in some cases block, delete and rewrite articles on the internet? It sounds counter-intuitive but many governments have decided that this is the best thing to do. But there is a huge consequence for these actions.

Questions arising from this:

  1. What motivates governments to do this?
  2. What can people do to make sure they are not a victim of censorship?
  3. What are the possible advantages of censorship? Could it be for their own safety?
  4. What are the ramifications of such a policy?
  5. Would you like to see this implemented in your country?

Video: Cory Doctorow on the debate about internet censorship

Cory is a highly respected journalist and science fiction writer for young people. From his own website

Cory Doctorow ( is a science fiction author, activist and journalist — the co-editor of Boing Boing ( and the author of many books, most recently WALKAWAY, a novel for adults, IN REAL LIFE, a graphic novel; INFORMATION DOESN’T WANT TO BE FREE, a book about earning a living in the Internet age, and HOMELAND, a YA sequel to LITTLE BROTHER.

The video was created by The Economist Educational Foundation

Vocabulary related to internet censorship

You may also want students to search for the meanings of these words themselves.

  1. Privacy (Noun, a state in which you are not observed or disturbed by others.)
  2. Cookies (Noun,  a small file on your computer which can track your visits to a website)


Task: Video comprehension. Guess the answers to the following questions and then watch the video to check if you’re right.

  1. Does Cory think it is possible to manage your privacy on the internet effectively?
  2. Can companies view what you are doing on the internet?
  3. Can they monitor your clicks and words you are typing?
  4. Most schools do not try to censor the internet.


  1. It’s almost impossible to manage your privacy
  2. Yes, it is possible
  3. Yes, it is possible
  4. False, most do and it is incredibly expensive.


Arguments for censorship

  1. A population may not have the ability to process all information that might be negative. If they were to find out, it may lead to violence.
  2. A government may want to prevent harmful trends to appear and are seeking to protect the population
  3. Some violent images and topics sensitive to security are rarely ever revealed in the media to protect individuals and preserve public morality

Arguments against censorship

  1. People have a right to know and to make free and fair decisions.
  2. Governments often hide information on the premise of security, but it is to protect their own faults.

Final remarks

Censorship is increasingly becoming a hot topic as people are encountering problems when trying to research the truth. So, with all that said, what do you think about censorship, is it for your own safety?

If you find this interesting then have a look at 5 taboo debating subjects and why they are sensitive.