Internet use has become ubiquitous in the past two decades, but governments, legislators, and their regulatory agencies have struggled to keep up with the rapidly changing Internet technologies and uses. In this groundbreaking collaboration, regulatory lawyer Christopher Marsden and computer scientist Ian Brown analyze the regulatory shaping of “code”—the technological environment of the Internet—to achieve more economically efficient and socially just regulation.
A daily battle for rights and freedoms in cyberspace is being waged in Asia. At the epicenter of this contest is China--home to the world’s largest Internet population and what is perhaps the world’s most advanced Internet censorship and surveillance regime in cyberspace. Resistance to China’s Internet controls comes from both grassroots activists and corporate giants such as Google. Meanwhile, similar struggles play out across the rest of the region, from India and Singapore to Thailand and Burma, although each national dynamic is unique.
When the prevailing system of governing divides the planet into mutually exclusive territorial monopolies of force, what institutions can govern the Internet, with its transnational scope, boundless scale, and distributed control? Given filtering/censorship by states and concerns over national cybersecurity, it is often assumed that the Internet will inevitably be subordinated to the traditional system of nation-states.
Internet filtering, censorship of Web content, and online surveillance are increasing in scale, scope, and sophistication around the world, in democratic countries as well as in authoritarian states. The first generation of Internet controls consisted largely of building firewalls at key Internet gateways; China’s famous “Great Firewall of China” is one of the first national Internet filtering systems. Today the new tools for Internet controls that are emerging go beyond mere denial of information.
The Internet has reached a critical point. The world is running out of Internet addresses. There is a finite supply of approximately 4.3 billion Internet Protocol (IP) addresses--the unique binary numbers required for every exchange of information over the Internet--within the Internet’s prevailing technical architecture (IPv4). In the 1990s the Internet standards community selected a new protocol (IPv6) that would expand the number of Internet addresses exponentially--to 340 undecillion addresses.
The idea of the “digital divide,” the great social division between information haves and have-nots, has dominated policy debates and scholarly analysis since the 1990s. In Working-Class Network Society, Jack Linchuan Qiu describes a more complex social and technological reality in a newly mobile, urbanizing China.
Innovation in information and communication technology (ICT) fuels the growth of the global economy. How ICT markets evolve depends on politics and policy, and since the 1950s periodic overhauls of ICT policy have transformed competition and innovation. For example, in the 1980s and the 1990s a revolution in communication policy (the introduction of sweeping competition) also transformed the information market.
The burgeoning use and transformative impact of global electronic networks are widely recognized to be defining features of contemporary world affairs. Less often noted has been the increasing importance of global governance arrangements in managing the many issues raised in such networks.
Many countries around the world block or filter Internet content, denying access to information that they deem too sensitive for ordinary citizens--most often about politics, but sometimes relating to sexuality, culture, or religion. Access Denied documents and analyzes Internet filtering practices in more than three dozen countries, offering the first rigorously conducted study of an accelerating trend. Internet filtering takes place in more than three dozen states worldwide, including many countries in Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.
International organizations, governments, academia, industry, and the media have all begun to grapple with the information society as a global policy issue. The first United Nations World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), held in December 2003, recognized the connections between information technology and human rights with a Declaration of Principles--in effect, the first "constitution" for cyberspace--that called for the development of the information society to conform to recognized standards of human rights.
In this book Ernest Wilson provides a clear, nuanced analysis of the major transformations resulting from the global information revolution. He shows that the information revolution is rooted in societal dynamics, political interests, and social structure. Using the innovative Strategic ReStructuring (SRS) model, he uncovers links between the big changes taking place around the world and the local initiatives of individual information activists, especially in developing countries.