The problem of censorship has always been an element found in every country and time, especially during periods of dictatorships.
Although this issue is quite attenuated in the most democratic countries, some countries will still suffer a great deal, especially if we think about the eastern countries where people cannot use Facebook, Whatsapp and read what they want, online.
Well, I was really into this topic during the last few weeks when I read that Uber will be blocked in Italy, at least until the next appeal (this is similar to a censorship, isn’t it?), so I started wondering about the blockchain and how the distributed ledger could solve this problem, if it is possible.
Innovation and technology can be the only way free speech online is going to continue to prosper.
Governments are actively working with worldwide computer companies to centralize the control over Internet. Just to quote an example
Germany plans to give 50 million euro fines to social media companies that fail to remove hate speech.
Now, I am one for stopping hate speech that invokes violence & harm on others, but this becomes a slippery slope.
Who defines hate speech?
- The Government?
- City Hall?
- Your ISP?
Every information is subjected to government rules: from collecting user data to monitoring and controlling the spread of information and use and censoring or manipulating what we read on the web.
The free and open Internet like we known it is under attack and it has been for sometimes now. Even if there are rules such as Stop Online Piracy Act, Protect IP Act, a few attempts are made in order to turn the Internet into a closed regulated media platform.
This way, the free passage of ideas and communication, in general, is in danger.
A few proposals have been made in order to restrict the use of Internet: from something similar to a driver’s license to a kind of like ID system where users won’t be able to access specific websites and online services.
Of course, this will also end any kind of user anonymity.
In an interesting video I saw, the author said that:
“legislation is always one step behind the community guidelines of a social network that colludes with an authoritarian government. It’s getting dicey and it’s going to take some major push back by the populace to circumnavigate further rising tyranny” and it cannot be closer to the reality.
How can blockchains help in fighting against censorship?
Basically, it would keep the web more free and open as possible. More than now, for sure.
The blockchain is a public distributed database that stores record known as “blocks” that originated from Bitcoin.
By its design, blockchain is resistant to any change of the data stored in it: once recorded, data cannot be changed retroactively, so data are permanent and verifiable by anyone at any time.
Thanks to this peer-to-peer network and a distributed timestamp server, the blockchain database is managed autonomously, without any central authority or middlemen.
Security and data integrity are guaranteed within the system because of the transparency of all the parties involved in a transaction.
Applying these principles to online information databases, video hosting platforms, and social networks would lead to online contents that wouldn’t be stored on any one server.
Thanks to the blockchain peer-to-peer system, it would be impossible to corrupt or control online contents.
There are already such social media platforms built upon the blockchain. This social network platforms are starting to emerge with the main goal of express ideas without any control.
Traditional social media platforms need to complying with censorship laws and regulations to stay in business. In fact, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Microsoft signed EU hate speech code last year.
This is where Synereo and Akasha – together with Steemit – came to reality.
Synereo: is a platform where users can easily monetize their works without having to turn their channels into advertisement real estate while granting their followers the opportunity to be rewarded for getting the word out.
These revolutionary content platforms are also decentralized because each content is stored on the blockchain without the use of any central server.
Akasha: was built on Ethereum and IPFS, or the Inter Planetary File System. It aims at being a decentralized social network with the main goal of maintaining “freedom of expression, access to information, and privacy that are fundamental human rights that should be respected on the Internet as well as in real life”.
Another platform is Steemit, a blogging site where data are stored on a blockchain called Steem; authors who decide to post on Steemit are paid for creating their contents. Users can also post and comment the online contents and the authors who get upvoted can receive a monetary reward in a Steemit-based cryptocurrency token.
My hope is going into the future we will slowly deviate from central control models such as we have now, into decentralized models. Where we as the people have the power, as supposed the few on top. The future is looking bright!
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.