Local Nets: Filtering and the Internet Governance Problem

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

Article Snapshot


John Palfrey


Article in The Global Flow of Information, Jack Balkin et al., eds., 2005 (from the conference of the same name, Yale ISP, April 1-3, 2005)


This paper describes nations’ efforts to control Internet content.

Policy Relevance

Internet filtering is widespread in some parts of the world, and should be addressed by observers of Internet governance.

Main Points

  • Nations in many countries “filter” Internet content on religious, political, and social topics to control what their citizens see. This is common in East Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East. 

  • States choose between DNS filtering (blocking certain domains), IP filtering (blocking entire IP addresses), or URL filtering (block certain sites). Most use URL filtering.

  • States need the help of Internet Service Providers to filter. Some citizens can evade the filters.

  • Internet filtering is a logical topic for efforts at Internet governance to address.

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