Internet Censorship

January 20, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Social Science, Political Science, Government
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Internet Censorship In order of appearance: Dmitriy Bespalov Ilya Braude Brian McBurney Yaroslav Volkov

What is censorship? Censorship - practice of examining in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable Our concern:  

Material, harmful to some groups of people Can they be protected from accessing?

What is the Internet? Internet 

Set of computers connected in to one global network No one owns it nor can shut it down

Our concern:  

Information on the Internet (Web) There is a lot of it!

What is the Internet?

Tools for Filtering Web page text search  

Could filter appropriate content Could allow inappropriate content

Manual classification   

Done by ISP (i.e. AOL) Expensive to maintain Not global

Waiver Our discussion is based on the US laws


Waiver Certain material should not appear on the Internet at all  

Web sites that sell illegal substances Child pornography

Current Attempts Issues Should filtering be done by government? Or should this be up to each person to decide? Communications Decency Act 

Prohibited posting "indecent" or "patently offensive" materials on the Internet Ruled unconstitutional by Supreme Court, 1997

Children’s Internet Protection Act 

Requires government - subsidized libraries use filtering technology Libraries need to deploy filters in 07/03 – 06/04

Poll How many people think that:  

Government should impose filtering? This should be up to each person to decide?

Government Controlled Censorship A common standard needs to be maintained 

Government is able to set a global norm

The government is able to enact enforceable measures of protection 

Government laws are enforceable

Problems with Local Censorship Parents’ inability to effectively limit access  

Parents’ technical deficiencies Kids are a lot more computer savvy these days

Local protection programs can always be circumvented Current filtering techniques do not work

Government Involvement is Good Government is able to work with ISPs Large dataset with AI = good filtering software  

Advanced Artificial Intelligence techniques Bayesian and Neural Networks

Cannot be circumvented easily  

Central management Advanced computer and networking knowledge required

Liability and Responsibility Government can be held legally liable for “over censoring” 

Government is under larger scrutiny from the general public. 1st Amendment

Private companies are not as malleable 

Will do as they like

Example: Bess Bess Internet Filtering Products Used in many schools Make academic research nearly impossible despite protests

Arguments Against Censorship

General Arguments Against Censorship John Stuart Mill’s Harm Principle  

Which is a greater harm? Censorship can lead to suppression of art, literature, and political thought The lesser of two evils

The Growth of the Internet Government censorship of content on the Internet will hurt further growth Internet’s success due to lack of control  

No national boundaries No limits on expansion

Censorship Follies Communications Decency Act’s two analogies 

Internet is like broadcast media, allows strong censorship Internet is like “dial-a-porn” telephone numbers, allows no censorship

A Double Edged Sword Government censorship benefits 

People protected from inappropriate material

Government censorship harms   

Different opinions about what is inappropriate Some material might be entirely inaccessible Too much power for the government

Protecting Access Parents choose how to protect their children, not government 

Filtered ISPs Family’s Choice Internet FamilyInternet FamilyOnline

Blocking Software Bess Net Nanny PC Time Cop

Internet Censorship: Summary

Once again: what’s in question? Illegal is different from potentially harmful to minors Illegal content is out of question Other things potentially subject to censorship, such as art and political content should remain free as guaranteed by the First Amendment.

What needs to be done? A way of controlling access of minors to offending content Those who are legitimately interested in this content should be able to access it

How can this be done? Ultimately, this should be done on clientside “Censorware” Currently available to users but not very effective. Problems include: - underblocking - overblocking Content labeling

Content labeling: theory Publishers label their own content Only explicit content has to be labeled Enforced by law Users set up their browsers to deal with labeled sites as they see fit No control over the content – just how content is labeled

Content labeling: implementation Metadata Current solution: meta tags Better solution: Semantic Web 

Based on Resource Description Framework (RDF) Currently developed by a number of researches led by W3C (

Internet Censorship Q&A

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