The Internet is and has always been a space where participants battle for control. The two core protocols that define the Internet – TCP and IP – are both designed to allow separate networks to connect to each other easily, so that networks that differ not only in hardware implementation (wired vs. satellite vs. radio networks) but also in their politics of control (consumer vs. research vs. military networks) can interoperate easily. It is a feature of the Internet, not a bug, that China – with its extensive, explicit censorship infrastructure – can interact with the rest of the Internet.
In the following collection, published as an open access collection here and as well in a special issue of IEEE Internet Computing, we present five peer reviewed papers on the topic of Internet censorship and control. The topics of the papers include a broad look at information controls, censorship of microblogs in China, new modes of online censorship, the balance of power in Internet governance, and control in the certificate authority model. These papers make it clear that there is no global consensus on what mechanisms of control are best suited for managing conflicts on the Internet, just as there is none for other fields of human endeavour. That said, there is optimism that with vigilance and continuing efforts to maintain transparency the Internet can stay as a force for increasing freedom than a tool for more efficient repression.
This collection was edited by Steven J. Murdoch of the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory and Hal Roberts of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.