Communications of the IIMA


The Internet has, within a period of twenty years, become the primary medium of information exchange in the world. It is also arguably the primary source of information in the world. Search engines such as Google and Yahoo have made the vast trove of information available and accessible to everybody. Email and social network applications such as Facebook and Twitter have enabled people all over the world to meet, collaborate and participate in joint activities. The Internet has also gradually become a tool of dissidence in repressed nations all over the world - to spread information, plan and organize activists and conduct protests. Not surprisingly, repressive regimes see the Internet as a threat. Under the guise of protecting their citizens from the negative effects of the Internet (such as pornography and hate speech), they have, and are, actively curbed Internet use by their citizens by adopting various censorship measures and blockades. In this paper I have surveyed the history of Internet censorship by various countries, starting from 1991. Governments all over the world use various means – legal, political, technical, and coercive – to control and restrict Internet content. Cataloging all such efforts by all the countries would be beyond the scope of this paper. Despite that, I have tried to focus on the various methods of censorship and blockades used by various countries around the world. I have also provided a brief description of recent attempts by Myanmar and Egypt to completely block the Internet, with a discussion of the technique and methods involved. Finally, I have also briefly discussed the push-back efforts by citizens of the world, who are actively and innovatively finding ways to circumvent the most pernicious of these censorship efforts and blockades.