Feeds

Net censorship growing worldwide

Control freaks

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

Censorship of internet content is growing across the world. A survey by the Open Net Initiative (ONI) across 41 countries found that 25 applied content filtering to block access to particular websites.

Web applications such as Google Maps and Skype as well as "subversive" websites featured on content blocking lists. Five years ago only a "couple" of states were exercising similar controls, according to John Palfrey of Harvard Law School, one of the researchers who took part in the study.

"There has also been an increase in the scale, scope, and sophistication of internet filtering," he told the BBC.

"Few states are open about informing their citizens about internet controls. There's no place you can get an answer as a citizen from your state about how they are filtering and what is being filtered," Palfrey said, adding that filtering almost invariable happens "in the shadows".

The extent of filtering varies between countries, with those in the Middle East among the most restrictive regimes. Burma, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen were among the states applying the heaviest use of the censor's "blue pencil". China, India, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand all apply controls, albeit to a lesser extent.

Academics from the Universities of Toronto, Harvard Law School, Oxford, and Cambridge who make up the ONI reckon there are three main rationales for internet censorship: politics and power, state security, and the enforcement of social norms (such as a prohibition of pornography in Muslim states). Censorship nearly always falls across multiple categories. Controls, once applied, are often expanded to cover a broad range of content and used to increase government control of cyberspace.

Use of internet filtering leaves citizens with a restricted view of events unfolding around them, as well as restricting their knowledge of the outside world. The ONI study noted the growing use of techniques and tools used to circumvent filtering.

"It's hard to quantify how many people are doing this. As we go forward each year we want to see if some of these circumvention technologies become more like appliances and you just plug them in and they work," said Jonathan Zittrain, professor of internet governance and regulation at Oxford University. ®

The next step in data security

More from The Register

next story
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
'Speargun' program is fantasy, says cable operator
We just might notice if you cut our cables
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.