Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bans Don't Work

Common sense tells us that bans simply don't work. Ban something and it makes everyone more curious about it and results in someone or the other finding a way to circumvent the ban. Its even worse if there is a huge demand for the item or service banned. The Andhra Pradesh government once banned liquor; the liquor trade simply transferred 'underground', made the liquor traders much richer and the government lost millions in revenue.

Banning something on the internet is absolutely futile. It's all the more easier to find a way out; the recent ban on blogs clearly demonstrated that. People found a way to access the banned sites and even told others how to go about doing it. It's consoling to know that the ban was a result of misunderstanding and the intention was clearly not to gag every form of communication on blogs. Its also interesting to note how all the ISP's so readily accepted the governments' orders without a slight murmur of a question.

Blogs, among many other things promote citizen journalism. I strongly believe that citizen journalism will become more important and more influential in the days to come. Most (if not every) bloggers report on incidents and events, spread useful information, provide advice and opinion because of a sense of personal duty, to help others or for the fun and enjoyment they get from doing what they are doing. Therefore, they are more likely to be unbiased in their reporting; they tell it as they see it. This is very different from main stream media, which has to make money from its operations to be sustainable.

Nothing can be better for democracy to flourish in India than educated and empowered individuals who have the tools to express themselves.

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