An analysis of the importance of internet censorship by individuals instead of governments

Internet censorship issues

In June , the U. This is achieved by returning a fake "Not Found" error message when an attempt is made to access a blocked website. The evidence suggests that the decisions whether to block potentially thousands or millions of sites—depending on the subjects that are targeted—have not changed. The websites on the local lists contain politically and culturally sensitive content in the predominant languages of each country that are potentially subject to filtering activity. Further, Moore fails to model indirect externalities, e. A much larger number of countries that engage in Internet filtering block both social and political content. Freedom House's study measured the level of Internet and digital media freedom in 65 countries based on an examination of local laws relevant to the Internet, website availability testing, and interviews from in-country sources. This in turn requires the use of technical censorship methods that are unique to the Internet, such as site blocking and content filtering. While any two countries chosen at random would have, on average, 57 percent agreement in their category-level censorship decisions, these three countries have an average of 80 percent agreement. According to GlobalWebIndex , over million people use virtual private networks to circumvent censorship or for an increased level of privacy. Tensions that have led to increased filtering in the past year include the conflict between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, the armed conflicts in Syria and Yemen, and conflicts involving the armed Lebanese group Hezbollah and the transnational group the Muslim Brotherhood. Today there are numerous Internet filtering programs available, several of which are commercially successful [ 2 ]. However the potential cost of biased responses is at least partially offset by the specificity of the Internet censorship question.

But there are tools available that you can use to protect yourself from prying eyes or restrictive firewalls. Additionally, adversaries are at times able to manipulate the processes put in place by platforms to flag violations of their content standards and cause the takedown of content or closing of accounts.

All deletion decisions may be reviewed, either informally or formally.

internet censorship pros and cons

The diversity of filtering practices is evident, from the heavy interventions by China, Saudi Arabia, and Iran to the more limited interventions by Singapore, Hungary, and Lebanon. Internet content providers are increasingly migrating their content to social media.

Governments have always been constrained in their ability to go after content hosted in foreign countries and to pursue authors who write anonymously or reside overseas. Publishers, authors, and ISPs may be subject to boycotts. The justification for censorship of such content is that this would lead to a greater social good, even if individuals are limited in what they can consume on the Internet.

This represents a reduction in transaction costs.

History of internet censorship

Filtering directed at political opposition to the ruling government is a common type of blocking in many countries across the world. Table 1 reports the frequency and percentages for each of the possible answers. Moreover, the platforms may submit to the pressure from governments to take content down. It might be argued that the data are too dated to provide any insight into the support for censorship on the Internet; the Internet is a fast evolving medium and those who were online in might be considerably different than those online presently. Because of the political friction between the two sides, the ISPs in Gaza block different political content. Individuals may be paid to write articles and comments in support of particular positions or attacking opposition positions, usually without acknowledging the payments to readers and viewers. In a similar situation, the censors in Malaysia blocked the entire platform in January after the company did not comply with a government request to take down objectionable content related to an corruption case. Finally, governments engage in debates and campaigns to shape media narratives. We draw upon an empirical study of Internet filtering in 45 countries carried out over the past year, and we describe the most important trends in the political, social, and technological spheres that shape the current state of global Internet freedom. In some cases the censors block religious content that does not conform with state-sanctioned religious belief under the pretext of maintaining political stability. In reality, there are a lot of governments that seek to control it. The justification for censorship of such content is that this would lead to a greater social good, even if individuals are limited in what they can consume on the Internet. A recent study finds that security adoption varies across industry sectors and that it is weak within news and sports websites.

This in turn requires the use of technical censorship methods that are unique to the Internet, such as site blocking and content filtering.

In India alone, 20 incidents of Internet shutdowns were recorded in the first six months of When the original legislation was enacted, filtering technology was nascent and unreliable. Whether the attitudes of the late s are the same today is empirical question which is not addressed in this paper.

For a large majority of the countries that have invested in the technical and administrative infrastructure for blocking Internet content, the bar for blocking political content is evidently no higher than that for blocking social content.

Therefore, as long as there is at least one publicly accessible uncensored system, it will often be possible to gain access to the otherwise censored material.

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Why do some countries censor the internet?