Interactive chart: understanding the chokepoints for censorship

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has posted an interactive map showing where the chokepoints are for online free speech, and which laws, proposed laws, and tactics can be used to force them to take your material offline:

Speech on the Internet requires a series of intermediaries to reach its audience. Each intermediary is vulnerable to some degree to pressure from those who want to silence the speaker. Even though the Internet is decentralized and distributed, "weak links" in this chain can operate as choke points to accomplish widespread censorship.

The Internet has delivered on its promise of low-cost, distributed, and potentially anonymous speech. Reporters file reports instantly, citizens tweet their insights from the ground, bloggers publish to millions for free, and revolutions are organized on social networks. But the same systems that make all of this possible are dangerously vulnerable to chokeholds that are just as cheap, efficient, and effective, and that are growing in popularity. To protect the vibrant ecosystem of the Internet, it's crucial to understand how weaknesses in the chain of intermediaries between you and your audience can threaten speech.

Free Speech is Only as Strong as the Weakest Link


    1. DNS is older and more crucial than HTTP (aka, the web). It’s part of the foundation of everything on the Internet, not just “the web”.

    2. The general public won’t understand the decentralized and centralized part of the internet.  Kudos for EFF for trying to remind and relay this concern.

      It’s true the network will work fine without DNS, with the exception of those on virtual services–however, I seriously doubt that people in general would bother or know how.  They don’t know what the internet is besides google, facebook, and twitter.

      Black screens with text scares them, usenet is some sort of email company, bulletin board system needs thumb tacks and telnet is a discount long distance call service, right?

      1. And they thought people couldn’t handle phone number that didn’t begin KLondike-5, but you know what?  We manned-up and learned to just memorize longer sets of numbers.

        1. And they thought people couldn’t handle phone number that didn’t begin KLondike-5, but you know what? We manned-up and learned to just memorize longer sets of numbers.

          Most people have to look up their own number. The rest they have programmed into the phone.

          1. I’m not sure where you get those conclusions from (I’m sure you didn’t just assume they must be true), but I’m still missing your point. 

            Just because doing things one way is common and easy, doesn’t negate another way being perfectly workable when push comes to shove.  Compromising the integrity of DNS would require rethinking how a lot of people use the internet, but it’s disingenuous to suggest it’s a critical link to maintaining free speech.  The phone network works just fine, whether or not anyone’s printing the Yellow Pages.

            EDIT: And Antinous, I don’t pretend to understand the Boing Boing administration hierarchy, but will you please get whoever needs to be on fixing that five-hour-old broken URL?

  1. Free speech on the internet does NOT require DNS.  It’s a luxury, like having a phone number that spells out a word; people can still manage to call you just fine knowing only the numbers.

    Sure, but like search, it is a practical necessity for most cases. If you are only communicating among a closed group of people you already know (which might be real application for a dissident group) then that works fine, but if you are trying to recruit or influence other people, it really needs to be easy to get to your information. If you don’t come up in search, or an easily remembered url, your message doesn’t exist (at least, it doesn’t exist outside of the ‘enthusiast’ community). EFF doesn’t say this so strongly in their chart, but they’re getting there with their point about search.

  2. The thing is designed to survive nuclear war. Isn’t there some way to exploit the multi-pathed, multi-noded and resilient nature of the design to make it survive censorship?

  3. This chart fails to include web page facilitators/operators in its analysis. Nor does it address the fact that “speech” on the internet is not spoken word, it is a publishable material or product. How can this analysis be complete when it leaves out the fact that a web page operator has the last word on to publish not to publish?? Doesn’t this decision also play an important part in the framework presented here?

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