What is internet censorship, where does it occur, where is it strongest, and what does it mean for us?

15th October 2021

Internet censoring is a process in which someone (typically government agencies or huge corporations) controls or forbids the display of particular material on the Internet. For instance, the popular torrent service pirate bay is one of the first popular websites being banned from the internet.

Simply said, if the government does not approve of a certain website on the Internet, that website is added to the list of prohibited websites, and residents of the nation are no longer able to access it.

Censorship on the internet is an attempt to make a free and non-submissive area on the internet more pliable and controllable so that it more closely matches the actual world in terms of legal compliance.

What kind of censorship exists on the internet?

Censorship on the internet is not a new phenomenon. Websites were blocked with enviable regularity around the world in the early 2000s. Each state devised its own set of regulations and had access to a slightly modified version of the Internet.

The blocking formats also differ. Both in terms of the technology employed and their impact on the user experience. In addition, there is the possibility of bypassing internet filtering imposed by government agencies or IT businesses.

IP address blacklisting

States compile burn lists of websites and include all prohibited URLs on them. When attempting to access these, the user receives an error message. The format of the error is determined by the communication provider and the locking method. It may appear to be a browser error or a stub with a message indicating that access to the selected site has been restricted. That’s why for instance popular service pirate bay has so many mirror domains.

Keyword-based content filtering

This is a more complex version of the same website blocking technology. Instead of IP addresses, communication service providers employ keywords. Requests in the form of “protests” are denied. Also, any websites that contain those words.

It will not be difficult for an authoritarian government to “filter” any sites on which a restricted term or person is referenced when attempting to bring down political opponents via the Internet.

In fact, this almost always works, allowing the provider to scrub the entire Internet of “illegal” resources with minimal effort.

Speed slowdown

Another type of censorship is to slow down the speed of websites that break the country’s laws.

Here is a recent example that exemplifies the method the best. Roskomnadzor recently attempted to limit the speed of Twitter in Russia. The basis for this was the Twitter administration’s refusal to remove information from the social network that purportedly violate Russian Federation law.

The website was up and running, but it was slow and traffic was down.

Penalties and prison terms

Perhaps the most effective blocking strategy. The possibility of big fine causes many members of the media to consider a hundred times before posting anything on the Internet.

And this isn’t limited to the media. Ordinary users are not immune to the effects of such a prison filter. Publishing on the Internet that irritated the authorities has more than once resulted in a lengthy prison sentence or hefty penalties. This is due to articles that promote drug propaganda or distribute pornography. Do I need to emphasize that such charges are frequently implausible and more akin to a “demonstrative whipping”?