chapter  9
14 Pages

Firewalls and Power: An Overview of Global State Censorship of the Internet

ByRonald J Deibert, Nart Villeneuve

However, the Internet is not beyond the power and control of the state. Just as physical borders demarcate the boundaries of state power, states are seeking to create informational borders in cyberspace. Expanding into the digital realm, states are developing and implementing strategies, both legal and technological, that seek to control information flows on the Internet. Known as Internet blocking and content filtering, technological mechanisms used to censor and control access to the Internet have been developed and deployed. Although the race between state control and freedom of communications on the Internet may still favour the latter, the means used to filter and monitor are becoming increasingly sophisticated.1

Perhaps even more so than traditional mass media, the Internet’s dependence on software and hardware routing mechanisms may provide unprecedented opportunities for authorities to parse out and eliminate those types of information flows that are deemed illegal or threatening. At the very least, the perceived association between the Internet and liberalisation cannot be taken for granted as a natural outcome of the technology itself.