We have often described the Internet as a “lawless” space, ungoverned and ungovernable by design… But states have an enormous amount of power over the mechanics of the Internet in their own countries.
Perhaps the most important question in ten years’ time won’t be if a society uses the Internet, but which version of it, they use.
Governments would largely prefer that the users encounter a virtual world that allows the powers that be to mirror their physical control.
What states can’t build in reality they will try to fashion in virtual space, excluding those elements of society that the dislike, the content that contravenes laws and any potential threats they see.
National filtering and other restrictions would transform what was once a global internet into a connected series of nation-state networks.
We have identified at least three models of internet censorship:
- The blatant (e.g. China)
- The sheepish (e.g. Turkey)
- The politically and culturally acceptable (e.g. South Korea and Germany)