“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.”
NICK COHEN, a British journalist and author, is a polemicist. His views have swung from the left to the right and back again over his 30-year career, but his arguments are often punchy and persuasive. In “You Can’t Read This Book” (Fourth Estate), his sixth book, he argues that we are living in an unprecedented age of censorship, coerced by violence, religion and money.
The book opens in 1989 at the end of the cold war, a time when many believed that liberal democracy would spread and freedom of speech would flourish. It was also the year that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa on Salman Rushdie, for his supposedly blasphemous book, “The Satanic Verses”. Mr Cohen uses the Rushdie fiasco as a springboard to discuss censorship, and the correlation between Islamic fundamentalism and the suppression of free thinking in the West, both in society and online. His argument borrows heavily from the works of writers such as George Orwell, John Milton and John Stuart Mill—especially Mill’s principle that censorship should only be applied in extreme circumstances.