Internet Filtering Session at the SDP 2007

This morning — at the Summer Doctoral Program in Cambridge, MA — we’re taking up the topic of Internet filtering and the work of the ONI (and what we’ve written about in our forthcoming book from MIT Press, called Access Denied). Some of the questions that students raised about the topic and after reading our work on it:

– One student says that her dad read a copy of Dr. Zhivago, censored at the time in his country, where each page was accessible to him only as a photograph. One of her points, I think, is that history repeats itself and we should understand how this story is a repeat and where it is new and different than previous stories of censorship. One student suggests, as a follow-up: let’s test the hypothesis that the Internet is revolutionary. A second of her points, I take it, is that people will figure ways around censorship in clever ways.

– How do you measure filtering of the Internet and then analyze what you’ve learned in a way that informs decision-making?

– How do you measure the impact of filtering on access to knowledge?

– Do we need to have ISPs that act like common carrier who do not ever filter?

– What is the role of large countries as neighbors to smaller countries, raised by the possibility of in-stream filtering?

– What is the role of the commercial filtering providers?

– How can we determine whether the practice of Internet filtering violates a universal right to access information?

– How can we study how copyright and trademark owners carry out filtering?

– Is there legitimate filtering? (A student posits: there is legitimate filtering, including via search engine. This concept invokes what Urs Gasser blogged about, provocatively, at the ONI conference about “best practices in Internet filtering.”)

– How do we study the circumvention piece and include it in our story? What about developing the tools of circumvention?

– How do you overlay cultural differences on this survey?

– To what extent does control of communications facilitate control of other institutions, tools, or otherwise? To what extent is control of communications a priority for a given authority?

– When does one state have the right and/or ability to influence what another state does in this domain?

See Daithi and Ismael for more, better than what I’ve posted here.

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