gulli:news: Germany is experiencing a heated debate over internet censorship following a law that will introduce DNS blocks against child porn sites. Judging from your observations, do you think internet censorship is increasing in Western democracies?
Jillian C. York: Internet filtering is definitely becoming more and more common in the West, as governments and private entities become more aware of the breadth of the Internet. Granted, most Western filtering has traditionally focused on child pornography and extreme sexual content, but it does seem that censorship is widening in some places (such as Australia) to include gambling sites, drugs content, and even more controversial things such as pro-anorexia/bulimia sites.
gulli:news: While the Chinese censorship system seems largely aimed at prohibiting people from accessing certain material, there are also tendencies to track down those who want to access it. Iran is said to hunt down protestors who use social media such as twitter to report on the situation during the aftermath of the election. Do you think this is indeed barring people from accessing information?
Jillian C. York: First of all, there are no known cases of people in Iran being hunted down via Twitter. That said, the perception of surveillance and the reality of surveillance in many countries is preventing users from blogging about certain topics, or using social media. In Morocco last year, a Facebook user was tracked down (and his information perhaps passed over by Facebook, though that has not been confirmed) after posting a fake account in which he posed as one of the country’s princes. On the other hand, such technologies could be used for good, such as tracking down traffickers of child pornography.