Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering

Published by MIT Press

Suggested Citation: Ronald Deibert, John Palfrey, Rafal Rohozinski, Jonathan Zittrain, eds., Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering, (Cambridge: MIT Press) 2008.

Content from the Book

The rest of the chapters consist of OpenNet's Regional and Country profiles.

News & Publicity

BBC's Clark Boyd talks to PIs about the book. Read the article review here
Review in Nature
Seth Finkelstein on the book and the technical difficulty of filtering


"No one had a clear sense of the nature of Internet censorship until now. This extraordinary work maps the unfreedom of the Net. Unfortunately, that state is becoming the norm."
--Lawrence Lessig

"In Access Denied an unlikely avant-garde of scholars, lawyers, hacktivists, and computer programmers come together to combat efforts by repressive regimes, corporate firms, and intelligence agencies to surveil, filter, and block the Internet. Through critical analysis, regional surveys, and the use of innovative software, the authors reveal the penumbra of a networked global civil society emerging from the Dark Side's efforts to eclipse the Internet. Everyone who supports open thought and the free flow of information should read Access Denied."
--James Der Derian, Director, Global Security Program, Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University

"The Web provides everybody with access to information. That makes those in power nervous. Transparency is the best defense against further narrowing of information access and the starting point for rolling back existing barriers. Access Denied provides the definitive analysis of government justifications for denying their own people access to some information and also documents global Internet filtering practices on a country-by-country basis. This is timely and important."
--Jonathan Aronson, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California

Book Description

Many countries around the world block or filter Internet content, denying access to information--often about politics, but also relating to sexuality, culture, or religion--that they deem too sensitive for ordinary citizens. Access Denied documents and analyzes Internet filtering practices in over three dozen countries, offering the first rigorously conducted study of this accelerating trend.

Internet filtering takes place in at least forty states worldwide including many countries in Asia and the Middle East and North Africa. Related Internet content control mechanisms are also in place in Canada, the United States and a cluster of countries in Europe. Drawing on a just-completed survey of global Internet filtering undertaken by the OpenNet Initiative (a collaboration of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University, and the University of Cambridge) and relying on work by regional experts and an extensive network of researchers, Access Denied examines the political, legal, social, and cultural contexts of Internet filtering in these states from a variety of perspectives. Chapters discuss the mechanisms and politics of Internet filtering, the strengths and limitations of the technology that powers it, the relevance of international law, ethical considerations for corporations that supply states with the tools for blocking and filtering, and the implications of Internet filtering for activist communities that increasingly rely on Internet technologies for communicating their missions.

Reports on Internet content regulation in forty different countries follow, with each country profile outlining the types of content blocked by category and documenting key findings.


Ron Deibert, John Palfrey, Rafal Rohozinski, Jonathan Zittrain


Ross Anderson, Malcolm Birdling, Ronald Deibert, Robert Faris, Vesselina Haralampieva, Steven Murdoch, Helmi Noman, John Palfrey, Rafal Rohozinski, Mary Rundle, Nart Villeneuve, Stephanie Wang, and Jonathan Zittrain

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