Access Controlled: The Shaping of Power, Rights, and Rule in Cyberspace

Networks, the Internet, and Cloud Computing, Internet, Search and Advertising and Media and Content

Article Snapshot


Ronald Deibert, John Palfrey, Rafal Rohozinski and Jonathan Zittrain


MIT Press, April 2010


This book looks at how national governments are using technology to control Internet content.

Policy Relevance

Governments can use technology to censor or block online content, and can conceal the operation of this technology from the public.

Main Points

  • One well-known system used to block or censor news reports and other online content is China’s “firewall,” known as the “Great Firewall of China.”

  • Governments that try to control content online are learning to use different and more effective technology.

  • Many other nations also use technology to help control online content:
    • Europeans seek to control hate speech or militant Islamic groups.
    • In the United States, controls are more focused on pornography and child pornography.
    • Other nations around the world control controversial political and religious content.

  • The technology used by governments’ to control content online includes viruses, denial of service attacks, data mining, surveillance, and user policies. These methods can sometimes be defeated, but not always.

  • Governments can conceal their efforts as network problems, and the public might not be aware of efforts to control online content.

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