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Open Net Initiative Launches Pathbreaking Study

The Open Net Intitiative global Internet filtering study was posted this morning, and it’s an incredible piece of work. From the BBC story on the launch:

The level of state-led censorship of the net is growing around the world, a study of so-called internet filtering by the Open Net Initiative suggests. The study of thousands of websites across 120 Internet Service Providers found 25 of 41 countries surveyed showed evidence of content filtering.

Not surprisingly, Google Maps and Skype were among the most-censored material.

Before Americans get smug about things, let me remind folks that while our federal government doesn’t do all that much of this stuff –a noteworthy recent exception is banning social networking sites from computers where the military has any influence — there’s all kinds of censorship taking place at state and local levels.

Schools and libraries around the country are routinely censoring computers to prevent kids from seeing even the most remotely objectionable material. It’s to the stage in many places where a student trying to gather material for a school report will be unable to find even relevant and useful sites.

Censorship is growing everywhere, it seems — and that includes America.

Meanwhile, congrats to my Berkman Center colleagues and others who worked on the project.

UPDATE: And props to Seth Finkelstein, frequent commenter here, who has been doing great work in this area for years.

3 Comments on “Open Net Initiative Launches Pathbreaking Study”

  1. #1 Seth Finkelstein
    on May 18th, 2007 at 7:48 am

    Actually, while not an outright ban, the Federal government does have a funding-based law – CIPA – that requires censorware in libraries.

    [remainder of planned comment skipped]

  2. #2 Frederick Lane
    on May 21st, 2007 at 4:59 am

    The provisions of CIPA (Child Internet Protection Act) also apply to elementary and secondary schools. If schools do not install filtering software, then they forfeit what are known as e-rate funds, money provided by the federal government to subsidize Internet access. A few schools have sufficient financial resources to opt out, but most don’t.

  3. #3 Guy Berger
    on May 24th, 2007 at 3:24 am

    As I just posted on JD Lasica’s link to your story:

    The study seems to neglect something critical: the power of governments to control domain name registrations. For example, Zimbabwe may not censor or block online media, but would certainly baulk at registering the domain name of the banned print paper, the Daily News. This is a loophole in Icann’s systems, and it is something that the Open Net Initiative should take a closer look at.