This combination of traditional and innovative methods has created a more varied menu of censorship than ever before. Stealth censorship appeals to authoritarian governments that want to appear like democracies—or at least not like old-style dictatorships. In illiberal democracies, of which there are a growing number, the government aims to keep a grip on the news media while concealing its fingerprints. A global survey of attacks on the press today shows governments mixing direct and indirect pressures as part of a booming emerging market in information control.
“Sauropod specialist Mike Taylor notes growing concern among scientists about the heavy-handed takedown practices of academic publishing company Elsevier, including serving DMCA notices on contributing authors who also self-publish their papers.
This year marks the 10-year anniversary of the enforcement of the Children’s Internet Protection Act, CIPA, which brought new levels of Internet censorship to libraries across the country. The law is supposed to encourage public libraries and schools to filter child pornography and obscene or “harmful to minors” images from the library’s Internet connection in exchange for continued federal funding. Unfortunately, as Deborah Caldwell-Stone explains in Filtering and the First Amendment, aggressive interpretations of this law have resulted in extensive and unnecessary censorship in libraries, often because libraries go beyond the legal requirements of CIPA when implementing content filters. As a result, students and library patrons across the country are routinely and unnecessarily blocked from accessing constitutionally protected websites.
A team of Canadian researchers have uncovered an unusual new example of “upstream filtering,” where online content in one country is blocked in another country due to filtering that happens in transit.
Researchers at the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, revealed that some Oman Internet users using the Omantel ISP are also being subjected to Indian content restrictions because of traffic flowing through India.
“It goes to show what you can find when you begin to probe beneath the surface of the Internet, and what you see when you have governments start to mess with the openness of the Internet,” Ron Deibert, Citizen Lab’s director, told Ars on Thursday. “In this case you have a perverse situation where citizens in one country are subject to filtering in another country.”