Internet censorship has evolved. In Version 1.0, censorship was impossible; in Version 2.0, it was a characteristic of repressive regimes; and in Version 3.0, it spread to democracies who desired to use technology to restrain unwanted information. Its latest iteration, Version 3.1, involves near-ubiquitous censorship by democratic and authoritarian countries alike. This Article argues that the new censorship model involves four changes: a shift in implementation to private parties; a hybrid approach mixing promotion of favored viewpoints with suppression of disfavored ones; a blend of formal mandates with informal pressures; and a framing of censorship using uncontroversial labels. It suggests a set of responses to censorship that cabin its abuses and push it towards more legitimate methods: focusing on governmental restrictions, insisting on labeling censorship as such, supporting distributed Internet governance, demanding a default right of access to information, and addressing corporate involvement.
I’d welcome comments and feedback. (The final version can’t have footnotes, so I’m going to leave this version up on SSRN.)
Filed under: Education & Copyright, Filtering, First Amendment, Google, Intermediaries, Internet & Society, ISP, national security, Politics, RIAA, Scholarship, Search Engines, Security, Social Networking, Spam