Censorship in the Digital Age

On May 10, 2011, in Censorship, by Nathan B


For my final project for CPSC 184, I created an infographic exploring internet censorship around the world. I used information supplied primarily by Reporters Without Borders, a free speech advocacy group which monitors freedom of expression worldwide. They publish an annual list of “internet enemies” detailing the actions of the internet’s most aggressive censors and discussing trends in online freedom.

I chose to create an infographic because, first, I believe existing infographics on the subject failed to use the medium to its fullest potential and, second, there are many poorly-understood parts of the issue which could be better explained using visual communication. For that reason, I chose to make the centerpiece of the infographic a diagram depicting different ways of circumventing government censorship of the internet. In order to make the, I not only had to research the different ways online communities have found to evade censors (e.g. anonymizers like Tor and proxy servers), but also designed the glyphs used by hand and went through several iterations of the diagram before arriving at the final product.

Additionally, I examined the different kinds of websites governments try to censor and, perhaps most importantly, how they actually go about blocking access. Some particularly interesting findings were the Russian government’s abuse of anti-piracy laws to seize the computers of opposition groups (thanks to Grace for finding that one) and Western IT companies’ willingness to not only follow censorship laws, but to even provide oppressive governments with technology and information which they could use to attack dissidents.

Check out the full infographic by clicking the thumbnail below and be sure to tell your friends about it (especially if your friends live under freedom-hating regimes).

Uploaded with ImageShack.us

PS- if anyone can find me a more permanent host for the infographic, please let me know (free image-hosting websites don’t tend to like 1200×2000 pixel, 1.75 MB jpegs).


1 Response » to “Censorship in the Digital Age”

  1. Janet says:

    Good summary and I realize space limitations restrict granularity …but it’s curious that you left out the countries that are parties/signatories to the the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which provides for the same deep packet inspection noted under Nokia/Siemens. France’s HADOPI law, already in force, permits deep packet inspection. In January 2010, France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy gave a speech to members of the French music and publishing industries and “said that authorities should experiment with filtering in order to automatically remove all forms of piracy from the Internet.”