Monday, May 28, 2007

New Global Study on Internet Filtering and Censorship

I have posted before about the international human rights project known as the OpenNet Initiative whose primary aim is to document and combat censorship on the Internet [see Report on Internet Filtering in Tunisia, Nov. 21, 2005; Internet Filtering Map, June 2, 2006].

Earlier this month, it 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.

More from:
  • Global net censorship 'growing' (BBC): "The study of thousands of websites across 120 Internet Service Providers found 25 of 41 countries surveyed showed evidence of content filtering. Websites and services such as Skype and Google Maps were blocked, it said. Such 'state-mandated net filtering' was only being carried out in 'a couple' of states in 2002, one researcher said. "
  • The internet's fading promise (Open Democracy): "In Europe, according to the report, filtering 'is the norm, not the exception'. As with Canada, whether or not this filtering is private or mandated by the state is somewhat blurred, as state actors often use the threat of new legislation to persuade ISPs to conform to 'voluntary' schemes. What gets filtered includes child pornography and content that falls foul of European hate-speech and defamation laws. Illegal gambling and copyright infringement have also been proposed as activities that could legitimately lead to content-filtering. So if even 'we're' up to it, is this the end of the unfettered internet? For those who know how to use the right tools, it's hard to see how. The protocols which power the network of networks are such that filtering by any of the means so far discovered by the ONI can be circumvented by those dedicated enough to try. Unfortunately, they are more likely to be the ones 'we' might justifiably try to contain. It is the people for whom the internet held so much promise - the dispossessed, the under-represented and the over-burdened - who are slowly seeing that promise starting to fade."
  • Internet est toujours censuré dans au moins 25 pays ("The Internet is still censored in at least 25 countries", Le Monde): "D'après les auteurs de l'étude, cette augmentation de la censure est essentiellement liée au taux de pénétration d'Internet dans les pays concernés. Il faut donc s'attendre encore à une augmentation dans les prochaines années, notamment lorsque le Net sera plus présent en Russie ou en Egypte, où l'étude n'a rien pointé pour l'année 2006. [According to the authors of the study, this increase in censorship is essentially tied to the level of penetration of the Net in the countries in question. One must therefore expect an additional increase in the years to come, as the Internet becomes more present in Russia and Egypt, where the study found nothing in 2006]"

The OpenNet Initiative is a partnership between the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, the Advanced Network Research Group at the Cambridge Security Programme at Cambridge University, and the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:26 pm

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