, Volume 76, Issue 1, pp 1–23 | Cite as

Geographies of global Internet censorship

  • Barney WarfEmail author


More than one-quarter of the planet’s population uses the Internet today, although access to it is highly uneven throughout the world. While it is widely celebrated for its emancipatory potential, many governments view the Internet with alarm and have attempted to limit access or to control its contents. This project seeks to provide a comprehensive, theoretically informed analysis of the geographies of Internet censorship. It begins by clarifying the reasons, types, extent of, and opposition to, government limitations of Internet access and contents. Invoking an index of censorship by Reporters Without Borders, it maps the severity of censorship worldwide and assesses the numbers of people affected, and using the Freedom House index, it correlates political liberty with penetration rates. Second, it explores Internet censorship at several levels of severity to explicate the multiple means through which censorship is implemented and resisted. The third part offers a moral critique of Internet censorship via a Habermasian interpretation of cyberspace as the closest real-world approximation of an ideal speech situation. The summary notes the paradox of growing e-government and continued fears of an expanded domain of public discourse.


Internet Cyberspace Censorship Habermas 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA

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