Online Censorship

  • Susan Perry
  • Claudia Roda


The Internet provides a virtual locale for the highly diverse carnival of human experience, offering a display of the best, and the worst of human nature. 1 As far as the latter is concerned, citizens expect their state to protect vulnerable populations, particularly minors, from online content that is hateful, violent, or pornographic in nature by eliminating proscribed material from the Web. This chapter will examine the practice of online censorship in two very different settings: the closed Internet system in China and the open Internet system in Europe. In each case, the state acts as a guarantor of content, censoring proscribed material according to the law in place. However, not all material that is censored is hateful, violent or pornographic; some, in fact, is highly political. The Chinese authorities have shown little tolerance for online activity that may threaten the monopoly of one-party rule in China, whereas European states have pursued a broad policy of hate speech censorship that has been extended to religious radicalism in recent years due to efforts to counteract online recruitment for jihadism. This chapter will compare and contrast (1) the interaction between Internet technology systems and censorship methods, (2) the legal constructs that frame government censorship policies, (3) the contested nature of information on the Internet, and (4) the impact of censorship on Internet users in both Europe and China. This chapter argues that, regardless of the governance system, digital censorship may violate or promote human rights according to the context. In the case of both China and Europe, Internet censorship has been relatively ineffective in countering real or perceived threats to the state and poses a problem for many in society who question the legitimacy of government officials more concerned with public opinion than the safeguarding of constitutional values.


Internet Protocol Address Hate Speech Bulletin Board System DPIDeep Packet Inspection Online Recruitment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan Perry
    • 1
  • Claudia Roda
    • 1
  1. 1.American University of ParisParisFrance

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