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Internet censorship

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Internet censorship

Censorship in cyberspace is often treated as a separate issue from censorship of offline material, but the legal issues are similar.

The major difference is that national borders are more permeable online: residents of a country that bans certain information can often find it on web sites hosted elsewhere. Conversely, attempts by one government to prevent its citizens from seeing certain material can have the effect of restricting foreigners, because the government may take action against Internet sites anywhere in the world, if they host material it objects to. For example:

France has asked auction sites hosted in the United States to remove Nazi memorabilia.

The People's Republic of China has set up systems for Internet censorship that are collectively known as the Great Firewall of China.

Cuba has made Internet usage illegal without a permit. For the most part only medical doctors can get permits, making the neighbourhood doctor the place to go to send e-mail to family abroad, but the Cuban government has been trying to restrict this.

Tunisia has blocked thousands of websites (such as pornography, mail, and translation services) and peer-to-peer and FTP transfer. [Technically, the filtering is made via a transparent proxy and the ports 23, 80, 1080, 3128 and 8080 are blocked.]

Syria has banned websites for political reasons and arrested people accessing them.

The majority of Internet access in the Middle East and a number of other countries is through government controlled proxy servers that block access to sites that are considered to be 'immoral'. This includes not only directly pornographic websites but also certain chat forums discussing any issues of sexuality, controversial blogging hosts, sites showing nudity of any description (including online businesses selling women's lingerie), as well as politically sensitive or controversial topics. Copies of pages are reviewed and eventually blocked when they do not meet set criteria.

The efforts of Scientology to stifle online discussion of its activities has been seen by many as a form of censorship.

The Project for the New American Century published plans that some said would control cyberspace and militarize near-Earth orbits in September 2000 [1] (http://newamericancentury.org/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf).

Censoring information on the internet, however, is very difficult (or impossible) to achieve due to the underlying distributed technology of the internet. Pseudonymity and data havens (such as Freenet) allow unconditional free speech, as the technology guarantees that material cannot be removed and the author of any information is impossible to link to a physical identity or organization. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship_in_cyberspace [Oct 2004]

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