Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering

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, 2008


This books surveys censorship and filtering of the Internet around the world.

Policy Relevance

Many countries around the world try to censor or control Internet content, with some success. Efforts to understand and resist filtering are just beginning.

Main Points

  • Some countries use filtering technology to stop citizens from accessing information on the Internet that is considered too sensitive for cultural, political, or security reasons. The information blocked includes topics like sexuality and religion.
  • About 40 nations filter Internet content. Most of these nations are in east Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and central Asia. China’s filtering is the most extensive.
  • International human rights laws should apply to filtering. Efforts to apply these principles through existing organizations are under way.
  • Corporations that provide Internet-related services become participants in filtering, and should begin to work on a code of conduct to guide them in their activities with filtering states. If they present a united front they can resist excessive state demands.
  • While the technologies used for filtering are always being upgraded and new methods are developed, the Internet’s complexity makes it very hard to control. 

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