Ronald J. Deibert, John G. Palfrey, Rafal Rohozinski, Jonathan Zittrain – Access Controlled: The Shaping of Power, Rights, and Rule in Cyberspace

Ronald J. Deibert

The MIT Press, ISBN-13: 978-0262514354, 656 pages, April 30, 2010, English
Two years after “Access Denied”, the same team of editors have published a new thick book about internet censorship and filtering. It’s another project by the OpenNet Initiative (ONI), a consortium of academics focused on free speech and government interactions with the Internet. This sequel is divided in two parts. The first includes “theory and analysis” with very informative essays that the editors also made freely available online. The second part is constituted of almost five hundred pages of regional and country-by-country reports, with a functional taxonomy to define the three general types of speech and information controls adopted by states. They are, in fact, evolving from the “first generation controls” (like the iconic “Great Firewall of China”) to second and third generation controls that are way more sophisticated, act in real time, and can easily assure extensive deniability using surveillance and data mining against the chosen target. The authors are very pessimistic about the future of the internet, forecasting many regional differences and strict state and even military control. The picture of authoritarian governments (and democratic ones as well) working with private companies to almost invisibly control their citizens at all times is not science fiction anymore. Nevertheless recent cases like the outstanding Wikileaks affair, go some way to proving that distributed information can be spread and published by citizens despite any military influence (unless Wikileaks ends up as the last example of real freedom of speech).