Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering

Article Source: MIT Press, 2008
Publication Date:
Time to Read: 1 minute read
Written By:

 Rafal Rohozinski

Rafal Rohozinski

 Ronald Deibert

Ronald Deibert



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.


Key Takeaways:
  • 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.



John Palfrey

About John Palfrey

John Palfrey will be Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School during the winter of 2021. He became the president of the MacArthur Foundation in the fall of 2019. Mr. Palfrey is a well-respected educator, author, legal scholar, and innovator with expertise in how new media is changing learning, education, and other institutions.

Jonathan Zittrain

About Jonathan Zittrain

Jonathan Zittrain is the George Bemis Professor of International Law at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Director of the Harvard Law School Library, and Faculty Director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.