First Monday

Resistance censorship is futile

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The Internet has become the new battle ground between authoritarian regimes and ordinary individuals who want unimpeded access to information. The immense popularity of online activism and citizen journalism enabled by social media has instigated state level players to partially or completely block access to the Internet. In return, individuals and organizations have been employing various anti-censorship tools to circumvent these restrictions. In this paper, we claim that censorship is futile as not only has it been ineffective in restricting access, it has also had the side effect of popularising blocked content. Using data from Alexa Web rankings, Google Trends, and YouTube Statistics, we quantify the ineffectiveness of state level censorship in Pakistan and Turkey and highlight the emergence of the Streisand Effect. We hope that our findings will, a) prove to governments and other players the futility of their actions, and b) aid citizens around the world in using legal measures to counteract censorship by showing its ineffectiveness.


22 Oct 2014


First Monday