Internet Blocking

Internet blocking - balancing cybercrime responses in democratic societies

Aconite Internet Solutions was funded by the Open Society Institute to study the issues surrounding Internet Blocking. The study explains what Internet blocking is, what the motivations for implementing Internet blocking in society are, what technical options are available and what the legal issues which affect Internet blocking strategies are.

The study provides a comprehensive analysis of the current state of Internet blocking, a review of the current regulatory and legal environment relating to Internet blocking and a commentary of the effectiveness of Internet blocking and its impact on the fight against cybercrime and the support of democracy and individual safety.

The most appropriate balance between the protection of children and democratic freedoms is a very complex issue which needs to be finally determined on a national level through extensive debate among relevant stakeholders in each country and with regard to relevant binding international instruments such as the European Convention on Human Rights.

According to the members of the European Parliament, unimpeded access to the Internet without interference is a right of considerable importance. The Internet is “a vast platform for cultural expression, access to knowledge, and democratic participation in European creativity, bringing generations together through the information society” and is protected by the right to freedom of expression, even when it is not currently considered as a fundamental right in itself [1]

In recent years, certain democratic states have promoted the use of Internet blocking technologies in relation to various types of content. They cite public interest to request specific blocks be implemented to uphold various aspects of public policy where the characteristics of the internet cause (international) enforcement issues. The subject matters vary from the availability of Nazi memorabilia via online marketplaces to gambling websites hosted in countries with liberal regimes in relation to online gambling.  Similarly, states with less open information regimes have taken to blocking as a technical resource for extending their practice of information control into the online world.

The complete study is available here.



[1] European Parliament resolution of 10 April 2008 on cultural industries in Europe, 2007/2153(INI), § 23, accessible at this address: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P6-T.... See section 6.3.2.2.