Various kinds of information on the web are suppressed in different countries, including sites deemed fraudulent, objectionable on moral, religious, political, or ideological grounds, or those believed to infringe on the rights of others. This report will study the motivations and methods for suppressing this information, as well as the responses elicited domestically and internationally in doing so.

Censorship Map
International censorship ratings as established by Reporters Without Borders.

In China, the methods and effectiveness of the Great Firewall highlight the use of internet censorship as a tool against political dissent, and the ways in which such restrictions may become palatable to users. Similarly, in Egypt, the threat of harassment and imprisonment is employed to curtail reports of protests, corruption, and police brutality on the web.

In the EU, internet regulation is put to use as a way of establishing and enforcing common moral standards, though some would criticize it as legislating taste. The popularity of these standards pits principle against practice in determining what is freedom on the internet.

Meanwhile, in the United States, internet censorship is practiced at different levels and in subtle ways. The extent of US involvement in foreign affairs and technology puts it in a unique position to impose its Internet policies on foreign nations. Also, within the US, individual service providers often censor web content on the principle of community standards, a practice which has called into question the role of the federal government in preserving freedom on the net.

In light of the difficult trade-offs seen in many of these cases, this report will examine the measures of freedom as proposed by various advocacy groups. It will also look at the effects of tools which circumvent Internet censorship, and, drawing from previous developments, identify the direction of progress in the field.

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