Science, Tech & Environment

Governments block internet

The book challenges some long held assumptions: that the internet was immune to state regulations or is difficult to control, says one of the editors of the book. He says in fact states were simply taking a hands off approach to the internet for many years but now they're blocking culturally or politically threatening content quite actively. He heads a lab in Toronto which has spent the last five years testing internet access worldwide. Saudi Arabia, Iran, and China are highlighted as some of the biggest filterers of web content in the world and those countries are getting smarter about how and when they block content. China's blocking of Tibetan protests on YouTube is one such example of this action. But Belarus, Cambodia and Burma have taken such action recently as well. This man says in many countries filtering goes well beyond tinkering with routers. The book makes it clear that more and more countries are wrestling with the issue of how much internet freedom to give to their citizens. This editor says part of the problem is the very structure of the internet itself. So is the future a host of multiple internets that don't necessarily talk to one another? This official says no, but he thinks the best analogy is akin to the old Middle Ages where there were multiple forms and sources of authority. Handheld devices are complicating things even more.