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My first question here is what, exactly, you mean by government control of the internet. Are you talking about fairly complete control of the internet like in China or are you calling what we have in the US “government control?”
If you are talking about our level of control, I do not think that it does more harm than good. Largely that is because I do not see it doing much harm. For us, government “control” of the internet seems mainly to mean bans on certain types of activity (gambling, child pornography) on the internet. I’m not sure that there is a need to ban internet gambling, but I don’t see where it does any real harm either.
So I don’t think that this level of control can really be said to harm us.
I would be moved to civil disobedience if the US government began to exert control over the internet above and beyond trying to curtail illegal or terroristic actions. Even that sort of control should be very carefully looked at.
I agree with post #2 in that I don't see a lot of control affecting what we can do and access over the internet right now. I can't think of an instance in which I've needed information or wanted to pursue an interest that was prevented by such control. I don't have a problem with the government wanting to limit the ability of certain deranged individuals from endangering the lives and freedoms of others through use of the internet.
In recent years, with the rise of truly independent news coverage on the Internet, government is increasingly interested in controlling, censoring, and limiting the Internet so it cannot harm their agendas. This has been seen as far back as the mid-nineties, when web-based news organizations began to break stories before the Old Media complex. Today, it is currently impossible to limit what people say and do on the Internet, but the government is giving its best shot. The recent failures of SOPA and PIPA showed that the populace is against any authoritarian limitation on the Internet, but the ACTA proposition was passed in secrecy; nobody even heard about it until it was too late! If the Internet is censored by government and special interests, the people who now enjoy a freedom of speech unparalleled in history will find themselves singled out and persecuted. Even though the Internet is used for fraud, abuse, and crime, it is better to have the freedom to avoid those things than to punish all people for crimes others commit.
There is a need for government control of the Internet as concerns rampant pornography on the Web - child pornography and more. Other than that, I think the wealth of resources available on the Internet for doing research, for keeping up-to-date on news and current events and such is great. Internet pornography enslaves individuals and many become addicted to it, which harms their relationships with others. It contributes to family breakdowns.
Freedom of speech doesn't mean propagating filth globally. Porn merchants hide behind this argument to ensure they continue to make millions. In our own families, do we put up with this kind of 'freedom of speech?' The government needs to get seriously involved in action against porn on the Internet.
More harm to what? Democracy? Commerce? Public safety? It really depends what an individual believes is the purpose and benefit of a free and unfettered internet before we can judge what degree of government control, if any, is necessary.
It's also important to remember that the internet is quite unique compared to other technological and economic advances of the past, in that information, images and business can cross international boundaries with ease, and it is very difficult to regulate, tax or control it.
I think the biggest need for government regulation of the internet centers on cybersecurity and the dangers that hackers and hostile groups and governments present to the safety and security of our financial institutions and information, our power grid, air traffic control and national defense computers. While there is certainly potential for government abuse of such controls, and it is hard to even detect much less prevent such abuses, an unregulated internet could be even more dangerous.
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