Saturday, November 27, 2010

Policing Content in the Quasi-Public Sphere

The OpenNet Initative (ONI) has released a paper discussing Policing Content in the Quasi-Public Sphere.

ONI is a collaboration of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto's Munk Centre for International Studies, Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and the SecDev Group (Ottawa). ONI’s mission is to identify and document Internet filtering and surveillance:

"Online conversations today exist primarily in the realm of social media and blogging platforms, most of which are owned by private companies. Such privately owned platforms now occupy a significant role in the public sphere, as places in which ideas and information are exchanged and debated by people from every corner of the world. Instead of an unregulated, decentralized Internet, we have centralized platforms serving as public spaces: a quasi-public sphere. This quasi-public sphere is subject to both public and private content controls spanning multiple jurisdictions and differing social mores."

"But as private companies increasingly take on roles in the public sphere, the rules users must follow become increasingly complex. In some cases this can be positive, for example, when a user in a repressive society utilizes a platform hosted by a company abroad that is potentially bound to more liberal, Western laws than those to which he is subject in his home country. Such platforms may also allow a user to take advantage of anonymous or pseudonymous speech, offering him a place to discuss taboo topics."

"At the same time, companies set their own standards, which often means navigating tricky terrain; companies want to keep users happy but must also operate within a viable business model, all the while working to keep their services available in as many countries as possible by avoiding government censorship. Online service providers have incentive not to host content that might provoke a DDoS attack or raise costly legal issues. Negotiating this terrain often means compromising on one or more of these areas, sometimes at the expense of users. This paper will highlight the practices of five platforms—Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, and Blogger—in regard to TOS and account deactivations. It will highlight each company’s user policies, as well as examples of each company’s procedures for policing content"

Earlier Library Boy posts about ONI include:
  • Toronto Academics Get Huge Grant to Fight Internet Censorship (February 7, 2006): "The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported yesterday that the OpenNet Initiative has received a $3 million U.S. grant from the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for an international human rights project whose primary goal is to combat state censorship on the Internet."
  • Helping Citizens in Repressive Societies Get Around Censorship (February 16, 2006): "The blog Slaw has an item today about Psiphon, a tool developed by the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab to help people circumvent government Internet restrictions in repressive countries."
  • Internet Filtering Map (June 2, 2006): "ONI has produced an Internet Filtering Map of the world. Clicking on a country of the world and then clicking on its info icon prompts a window to pop up with data on government filtering and/or censorship practices as well as links to additional material."
  • New Global Study on Internet Filtering and Censorship (May 28, 2007): "Earlier this month, it [ONI] released the results of a global study of Internet filtering. The Initiative has also produced many country and region profiles on its website. It looked at techiques used by governments in more than 40 countries to block different types of content in areas such as dissent, free expression, human or minority rights, sex, drugs and hate-speech."
  • OpenNet Initiative 2009 Annual Report on Internet Filtrering and Censorship (February 6, 2010): "The OpenNet Initiative (ONI) has released its 2009 Year in Review report that documents instances last year of Internet filtering and censorship initiatives worldwide."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:24 pm


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