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STIA-305 Term Paper
The Role of Internet Corporations in Promoting Digital Freedoms
Abstract Through its global nature, the Internet has challenged traditional concepts of national sovereignty and legitimacy. Multinational corporations operating in various legal jurisdictions face difficult questions of opposing laws and values. These firms state their preference for American-style protection of speech and privacy, but are beholden to conflicting laws abroad. The most notable example is China where Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! operate in a jurisdiction which provides far less individual autonomy than the United States. This paper examines the mechanisms, both political and technological, through which these firms can further the values of free expression and privacy.
Table of Contents I. II. III. IV. V. Introduction....................................2 A Libertarian Network?..................3 A Network of Control......................6 Corporations on the Zoned Net......8 Towards a More Perfect Union.......12
STIA-305 Term Paper
I. Introduction In April 2007, Chinese journalist Shi Tao was sentenced to ten years in prison for “leaking state secrets.” His trial, in its entirety only two hours long, hinged upon information obtained by Chinese government prosecutors from the local subsidiary of Silicon Valley giant Yahoo!. The multinational Internet company had provided to the Chinese officials personally identifiable information about Shi Tao who used the Yahoo! email service to distribute a summary of a meeting in which journalists were instructed by government censors to downplay the anniversary of the June 4th, 1989 political crackdown. 1 In what would become a widely condemned action, Yahoo! had directly contributed to a severe punishment of a political dissident. To many, the saga of Shi Tao was a shock. The Internet was supposed to liberate. A global, interactive, open medium for communication was believed to advance freedom of expression and provide checks upon government abuse of power. Many early observers of the Internet saw cyberspace as beyond the control of government; the rules and norms would develop independently of traditional institutions. The fundamental architecture of the Internet allegedly supported the libertarian ethic which pervaded Internet governance discussions throughout the 1990s. The underlying reality of the Internet, however, is vastly different. Through various means, both technical and political, governments can and do exert increasing control over citizen behavior online. The same network which was supposed to herald a new era of free expression has become a carefully manicured arena of regulated
MacKinnon, Rebecca. "Shi Tao, Yahoo!, and the lessons for corporate social repsonsibility." RConversations. Dec. 2007. University of Hong Kong. 4 Dec. 2008 <http://rconversation.blogs.com/ yahooshitaolessons.pdf>. 2
including Google. 2008 <http:// www.Kevin Donovan STIA-305 Term Paper discourse. are required to obey local regulations. “a collaborative approach to protect and advance freedom of expression and privacy in the ICT sector. but. governments have come to rely on the cooperation of private entities. of course. Microsoft and Yahoo!. but as the backlash following the case of Shi Tao makes clear. it is the birth of the Internet and its subsequent formation that laid the foundation for many of today’s disputes concerning freedom of 2 "Global Network Initiative. in a global network." Global Network Initiative. American Internet companies have both a philosophical and financial preference for freedom of expression and individual user privacy. values and norms can differ widely.” are feasible options. but a variety of other choices exist. such as the Global Network Initiative. given their subservience to Chinese law. Throughout the world.globalnetworkinitiative. 3 . the Internet is so pervasive in the developed world that its origins are of little concern to many. a wide range of content is blocked. however. 2 This paper seeks to explain the technical and legal basis for the conflict of values and to critically assess the Global Network Initiative and other options to protect the universal human rights of freedom of expression and privacy as they relate to the expansion and use of the Internet. 4 Dec. Recent efforts.org>. in countries both authoritarian and democratic. The practice and policy of Internet filtering and surveillance requires the involvement of prominent technology firms. In this restrictive endeavor. II. These companies. A Libertarian Network? Today. their ability to promote these is limited.
Funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. 1998. 5 Ruthﬁeld. Internet Society.Kevin Donovan STIA-305 Term Paper expression and privacy.acm.” 3 In order to create a network that would allow the US government to communicate following an enemy attack on communication infrastructure. Katie. Those origins are found in the era of government funded advanced research of the Cold War. the packet could be rerouted or simply resent.html>. 1995.org/internet/history/cerf. instead. but packet-switching split individual messages (say.org/crossroads/xrds2-1/inet-history. ARPANet and the subsequent TCP/IP suite of protocols established the technical means to “allow networked computers to communicate transparently across multiple. In the 1960s. ARPANet was designed to be a distributed network. 2008 <http://www. 4 Dec. or it occurred too slowly. with the specter of nuclear war on the minds of many in the national security sector. Where Wizards Stay up Late : The Origins of the Internet. 4 Hafner. 4 . unlike the centralized telephone system operated by AT&T. Scott. In a traditional. linked packet networks. Incorporated. Vint. Association of Computing Machinery. a team of researchers began a project to develop a resilient network to connect the various computers which were being used at government and educational institutions." All About the Interent. the packets would just travel a different route. centralized system all information is passed through a specific location. 4 Dec. 5 The attraction to the Pentagon officials funding the research was that a destroyed node on the network wouldn’t block traffic. an email) into smaller packets and sent it through the network. New York: Simon & Schuster. 2008 <http:// www. If the data couldn’t pass through a certain router.shtml>." Sept. 4 The key technological insight which allowed this to happen was packet-switching. "The Internet's History and Development. 3 Cerf. "History of the Internet.isoc.
Jonathan. New York: Yale UP. and David Johnson. "The design of the Internet reﬂected not only the ﬁnancial constraints of its creators. 2008 <http://homes.as it became more widely deployed." 8 Feb. one’s use of it was not constrained like the AT&T network. It was widely believed that digital content appearing “simultaneously and equally in all jurisdictions” was radically undermining traditional forms of sovereignty. For example. 4 Dec. David G. 2008. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear. but also their motives. nor was there much control of early users.The Rise of Law in Cyberspace. the power of local governments to assert control over online behavior. Johnson.. 1997. 8 Post.eff. governments very early on attempted to exert control upon the Internet... in 1995 German authorities threatened to prosecute CompuServe."9 Yet. distributed architecture was widely interpreted to have some immutable values inherent in the design. Electronic Frontier Foundation.org/~barlow/declaration-ﬁnal. The Future of the Internet--and How to Stop It. As Jonathan Zittrain notes." University of Chicago Law Review (1997). Spillovers... They had little concern for controlling the network or its users’ behavior. a popular 6 7 Zittrain. "Law and Borders . 7 Legal scholars David Johnson and David Post wrote that “The rise of the global computer network is destroying the link between geographical location and. 9 Barlow."6 Indeed. David G.html>. "Borders. and Complexity: Rule. early observers of the Internet believed there was something uniquely unregulable about the new medium. "I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies [governments] seek to impose on us. Indeed.. 5 .” 8 In his famed “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” John Perry Barlow wrote. Post.making Processes in Cyberspace (and Elsewhere). there was a uniqueness to the new medium . "A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace." Stanford Law Review 48 (1996). John P. and David R.Kevin Donovan STIA-305 Term Paper This open.
Elmer-Dewitt. both French and German law prohibits trafficking in Nazi-related goods. 10 11 Goldsmith.com’s auction site. 1993. but a far more influential case involved the pioneering Internet firm Yahoo!. CompuServe reacted by blocking access to the material. Yahoo. Philip." Berkeley Technology Law Journal 17 (2002). would be impossible on the Internet. 10 This filtering. violated French law." Time Magazine 6 Dec. through both legal and technical means.Kevin Donovan STIA-305 Term Paper ISP at the time. it is becoming increasingly popular. II. the American version was still available to French users. The nation state has. For example. The CompuServe case mentioned above was an early indicator of the supremacy of the state. which complied with French law. through which Nazi goods were sold. It was this position that Yahoo! defended in a seminal 2000 lawsuit which charged that Yahoo. and many others. A Network of Control The borderless world imagined by early cyber-libertarians is but a distant memory. but as will be shown below. Although Yahoo! maintained a French version of its service.fr. "Against Cyberanarchy. it was believed. for hosting content in violation of their anti-pornography laws. this would seem to be a violation of freedom of expression. Cognizant of the hate-filled past. reasserted itself as the leading arbiter of online behavior. In other countries. Jack. notably America. recalling the built-in resilience of packet-switching networks. 6 . “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it."11 To Gilmore. the architecture of the Internet would treat censorship the same way as a Soviet bomb. John Gilmore said. "First Nation in Cyberspace.
was that simple technical measures could be used to “effectively screen out 90 percent of French users.eff. 13 Yahoo! v. do not contain geographic data. 2000). though. it could impose its rules.Kevin Donovan STIA-305 Term Paper To Yahoo!. LICRA (US District Court Northern California December 21. Once a state could impose borders. Who Controls the Internet? : Illusions of a Borderless World. Electronic Frontier Foundation. Who Controls the Internet? : Illusions of a Borderless World.” 12 The reality. 12 Wu. the judge found against Yahoo and ordered it to start geo-targeting its users so that French citizens could not access content illegal in France. and Jack Goldsmith. 2008 <ttp://www. Founder Jerry Yang said. New York: Oxford UP.org/legal/jurisdiction_and_sovereignty/licra_v_yahoo/ 20001221_yahoo_us_complaint. In essence.pdf>. a number of firms had developed a technology called “tracing” packets that determine the routers through which Internet traffic has traveled. “Asking us to filter access to our sites according to the nationality of web surfers is very naive. 2006. 14 In light of this invention. Incorporated.” 13 Although IP addresses. having French laws regulate its American site was both impossible and wrongheaded. Tim. New York: Oxford UP. states could now compel online firms to zone the Internet and they quickly did so. This information is cross-checked against databases that identify the geographic location of the earliest computers in a packet’s journey. 14 Wu. 4 Dec. Tim. 2006. the unique records assigned to each networked computer. and Jack Goldsmith. geo-identification and the Yahoo! case established the technical and legal basis for a bordered Internet. No development as clearly displays the rise of state-mandated Internet zoning as that of online content censorship. Incorporated. 7 .
18 Deva. immense domestic market and reputation for an antagonistic approach to free expression. New York: MIT P. despite the government’s occasional denial that it restricts any Internet content. 16 17 For an extended discussion of the technical means. 16 A key component though. "Reluctant Gatekeepers: Corporate Ethics on a Filtered Internet. Corporations on a Zoned Internet Due to its global economic influence. are the private firms which cooperate with the government: “The job of online censorship and surveillance is difficult for the state to manage itself. 8 . These companies offer a variety of services in the Chinese market and maintain offices and servers within the jurisdiction of the PRC. please see Annex A. 18 Still. "Corporate Complicity in Internet Censorship in China: Who Cares for the Global Compact or the Global Online Freedom Act?" George Washington International Law Review 39 (2007). if not altogether impossible. Zittrain. Jonathan. Access Denied : The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering. Surya. Many of these laws have been heavily criticized by human rights supporters who see them as unjust violations of both the Chinese Constitution and international human rights law." Global Information Technology Report (2006). Rafal Rohozinski. an independent partnership to study Internet censorship. “China continues to expand the largest and most sophisticated filtering system in the world. and Jonathan Zittrain. Microsoft and Yahoo!. According to the OpenNet Initiative. John G.Kevin Donovan STIA-305 Term Paper III. and John Palfrey. Internet regulation in China bans a wide range of content ranging from inciting hatred to “jeopardizing the integrity 15 Palfrey. the role that multinational corporations take in China’s information economy has been the subject of much deserved attention. informal norms and technical measures. making them legally bound to comply with its laws..” 17 The American firms most often cited as complicit in this effort are Google. legal requirements. eds. 2007.” 15 The means through which this is accomplished are a maze of regulatory agencies.
eds. it had failed to gain much traction within China. Those outcomes have also deeply challenged the executives who facilitated them. Prior to 2006." Congressional Human Rights Caucus Membersʼ Brieﬁng. Google executives felt that this was “due in large measure to the extensive filtering performed by Chinese Internet service providers.. New York: MIT P. US Congress. 2007. 20 However. Washington. Access Denied : The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering. could search the Chinese language web. 9 . eds.Kevin Donovan STIA-305 Term Paper of national unity. Rafal Rohozinski. The experience of Google within China is a telling one. 2007. DC. the requirements of companies in China are qualitatively less liberal than those in the rest of the world. "Human Rights and the Internet – The Peopleʼs Republic of China. Rafal Rohozinski. 22 McLaughlin." New York Times 26 July 2008.com. Google. Given a fiduciary responsibility to create shareholder wealth. Palfrey.” 22 According to their measurements.jailed political dissidents due to Yahoo’s data and censored search results on Google. While its primary service aimed at the USA.” so that the outcome is to “provide the government with almost endless authority to control and censor content while discouraging citizens from testing the boundaries of these areas. 21 While such regulation is not unique to China.. Google did not operate a Chinese search engine. Google.com was entirely blocked in China around 10 percent of the time 19 Palfrey. "China Surpasses U. John G. Andrew. ISPs in China are required to retain personally identifiable information about users for at least sixty days and to ensure that no illegal content is being hosted on their servers. Access Denied : The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering. in Number of Internet Users. and Jonathan Zittrain.offend the sensibilities of many Westerners who value privacy and free expression. David. the outcomes . these firms have compelling reasons to enter the enormous Chinese Internet market. and Jonathan Zittrain. 1 Feb.S.” 19 The effect on foreign corporations is not small.cn . New York: MIT P. 2006. John G. 20 21 Barboza.
2008 <http://cyber. both ISP filtering and online service provider censorship. 26 These so-called block-lists are often generated individually by companies due 23 Schrage. Failing to offer Google search at all to a fifth of the world's population.law. 4 Dec.com/2006/01/google-in-china. "Google in China. 2008." Weblog post. When Google’s service could not be reached.Kevin Donovan STIA-305 Term Paper and operated sluggishly when available.” 24 As Google’s experience makes clear. 25 26 See Annex A for an extended description. Andrew. before the Subcommittee on Asia and the Paciﬁc. say. the official website of Students for a Free Tibet. 2006. Washington. it seemed Chinese ISPs were blocking certain queries or redirecting some requests for Google.html>. the Internet backbone providers were using a variety of methods to interrupt packets on their way to servers around the world." Hearing of Committee on International Relations. however.cn which would remove search results for politically sensitive results.cn omit. Berkman Center for Internet and Society." 22 Oct. 25 On the other hand. United States House of Representatives. "Localized Google search result exclusions. 23 So. in early 2006 Google decided to comply with Chinese self-censorship laws and deploy Google. DC. 4 Dec. 27 Jan. “Filtering our search results clearly compromises our mission. Zittrain. and International Operations. Internet censorship in China is a multilayered endeavor which includes. Global Human Rights. Even further. 2006. "Testimony of Google Inc. the Google programmers have written the code to omit individual results based on a list of sensitive topics.edu/ﬁltering/google/>. among other aspects. and the Subcommittee on Africa. Jonathan. does so far more severely. 24 McLaughlin. Google’s Andrew McLaughlin said. and Benjamin Edelman.harvard. 10 . when search results on Google. 2008 <http://googleblog. Ofﬁcial Google Blog.blogspot.com to Chinese competitors who censored their results. Elliot. Determining that limited access was better than none. 4 Dec.
4 Jan. 30 Given this personally identifiable information. 2008 <http://rconversation. Human Rights Watch.Kevin Donovan STIA-305 Term Paper to the lack of clear guidance from the government and can include obviously sensitive topics like “Dalai Lama” but also more curious phrases like “cat abuse. Philip. 29 30 MacKinnon. 4 Dec. 2006. 2008 <http://rconversation. PublicationNo. the aforementioned jailed reporter.com/rconversation/2006/01/microsoft_takes. became a cause célèbre due to the role Yahoo’s information played in his trial. and the lessons for corporate social repsonsibility. RConversations. mascot and cashﬁesta have in common?" Washington Post 19 Feb. 28 Race to the Bottom: Corporate Complicity in Chinese Internet Censorship." RConversations.cn’s censorship represents a limit to information access. 2007. "What do cat abuse. 11 .pdf>.” 28 Indeed.” 27 The experience of Google is not unique. "Shi Tao. along with the address and phone number of the user. Yahoo!. Yahoo! presented the unique IP address for the time at which Tao’s fateful email was sent.blogs. 8. "Microsoft takes down Chinese blogger." Weblog post. Chinese prosecutors were able to easily identify 27 Pan. Yahoo! and Microsoft have had to make similarly difficult decisions concerning free expression and privacy while operating in China. Microsoft’s Chinese blogging platform has come under fire for limits on information expression by automatically banning the use of words like “democracy. Shi Tao. instead of just in China proper.com/ yahooshitaolessons. 4 Dec.html>.blogs. Rebecca. 2006. 29 Finally. For example. while Google. the experience of Yahoo! provides insight into the implications for privacy when Internet companies are forced to comply with Chinese law. University of Hong Kong. 2006. Microsoft once blocked access to a popular but controversial Chinese blog around the world. Following a request by Chinese authorities. Rebecca. MacKinnon. Dec.
Surya. Microsoft and Yahoo! can pursue to promote online freedom in China. Some of the earliest came from prominent human rights organizations." RConversations. the total revenue from Chinese Internet users was 186 billion Yuan and growing at more than 50 percent a year. 33 American firms are under 31 Race to the Bottom: Corporate Complicity in Chinese Internet Censorship. These are not just ethical concerns. University of Hong Kong.pdf>. The case of Shi Tao even brought Yahoo! founder Jerry Yang to publicly apologize to his mother. Yahoo!. IV.blogs. shareholder advocacy. 2007. "Corporate Complicity in Internet Censorship in China: Who Cares for the Global Compact or the Global Online Freedom Act?" George Washington International Law Review 39 (2007). too. there are a variety of mechanisms. there are very serious financial considerations at play. front page headlines and Congressional hearings. In 2006. but the concerns have resulted in lawsuits. PublicationNo. 4 Dec. 8. saying “I want to say we are committed to doing what we can to secure [the dissidents’] freedom. Human Rights Watch. In fact. Towards a More Perfect Network The roles American Internet companies play in enforcing controversial Chinese domestic laws are not without critique.” 32 Google and Microsoft.Kevin Donovan STIA-305 Term Paper Shi Tao and proceed with his trial. 33 Deva. 32 MacKinnon. and the lessons for corporate social repsonsibility. 12 . both technological and political.com/ yahooshitaolessons. 2006. Rebecca. have had to reverse positions and admit to compromising their values as they operate in China. Dec. that Google. Shi Tao is joined in the ranks of prosecuted cyberdissidents by at least two others where Yahoo! cooperated with authorities. "Shi Tao. 31 The future of freedom of expression and privacy on the Internet need not be as dreary as these cases would suggest. 2008 <http://rconversation.
While it was initially thought that Google would be able to make more money by maintaining Google. "On a business level. Google founders admit. Microsoft and Yahoo! recently joined leading human rights organizations. The Global Network Initiative (GNI) includes a set of principles affirming the importance of freedom of expression and privacy as fundamental human rights.. that decision to censor.. was a net negative. and a framework for enforcing the commitments of members. both freedom of expression and privacy are recognized as “human right[s] and guarantor[s] of human dignity. guidelines on how best to implement these within multinational corporations.” Participating companies pledge to protect and promote these rights by seriously considering the relevant implications for business decisions. a multi-stakeholder effort to protect and advance freedom of expression and privacy. 13 . "China censorship damaged us. because the switching cost between services is so low online. requiring governments to follow formal legal processes and interpreting government requests narrowly to avoid unnecessary harm to freedom of expression and 34 Martinson. a public relations blunder can result in users simply moving to another search engine or blogging platform. but doing so effectively seems to come at a cost. In response to internal anxieties and outside pressure. Also.Kevin Donovan STIA-305 Term Paper pressure to capture some of this market.cn." The Guardian 27 June 2007."34 Because these companies make money from selling advertising around online content. and socially responsible businesses in the Global Network Initiative. academics. Google. In the GNI. Jane. according to Google’s founder Sergey Brin. they have a financial interest in an Internet accepting of all content.
org/article. Leslie Harris of the Center for Democracy and Technology. the Global Network Initiative does not comprehensively solve the problems facing Google. there are a number of independent steps companies could take. "Internet companies embrace human rights guidelines. How can they further improve freedom of expression and privacy in China in order to reap the benefits of a flourishing online environment and avoid participating in potential violations of human rights? Although their ability is not as broad as governments who could use trade relations to pressure China. is that companies operating in conflicting legal jurisdictions will be forced to consider the best way forward. hopefully to minimize the negative effects on users’ rights. Although information about users can be used for a variety of reasons. “purging data is the best way of protecting privacy and free expression in the Internet age: it’s the only way of guaranteeing that government officials can’t force companies like Google and Yahoo to turn over information that allows individuals to be 35 "Global Network Initiative.globalnetworkinitiative.rsf. Reporters without Borders. 14 . 4 Dec. such as Reporters without Borders have critiqued the effort." 28 Oct. 37 "Reporters without Borders is not endorsing the GNI. 2008. 36 Jesdanun. Microsoft and Yahoo!. 2008. 37 While an important and influential step. 36 Some influential groups. according to one of its key creators.Kevin Donovan STIA-305 Term Paper privacy. Anick. 4 Dec. companies’ data retention policies should be tailored to protect users." Associated Press 27 Oct.org>. 2008 <http:// www. but it provides a firm foundation from which to continue in this regard. 35 The effect. To avoid complicity in identifying online dissidents. such as improving advertising revenue and detecting abuse. 2008 <http://www." Global Network Initiative.php3?id_article=29117>.
2008. This technology is widely used in online commerce where personal information. 4 Dec.Kevin Donovan STIA-305 Term Paper identified. are sent to vendors. Companies are obviously not unaware of this option. 2008 <http://googlepublicpolicy. Alternatively. but Yahoo! and Microsoft lag behind this decision by four and nine months.itworld. 2008 <http://www. "Google's Gatekeepers.blogspot. phone lines. the downside of this 38 39 Rosen. Google Public Policy Blog. cable lines. and Jack Goldsmith. respectively.” 41 This trade-off between privacy and the speed of a service is manifest in another design choice made by Internet corporations. "Google cuts time it retains IP address logs to 9 months. 2008. Adam. and microwave and satellites transmitters and receptors that interconnect them. Meller. However. Who Controls the Internet? : Illusions of a Borderless World. 40 “Bandwidth limitations illustrate an important but poorly understood fact: the efficacy of Internet communications depends on the real-space location of both data and the underlying Internet hardware through which the data travel (routers and exchange points. such as credit cards numbers. Tim. Paul. 41 Wu. and the fiber-optic cables. 9 Sept. but choose to not do so due to a preference for speed. The Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is a protocol used in online transactions to cryptographically transfer data securely between distant entities.” 38 Google recently halved the time they maintained personally identifiable IP addresses to nine months. Jeffrey. New York: Oxford UP." New York Times Magazine 28 Nov. 39 All companies should make a concerted effort to continue innovating and maintaining security while working to keep data for the minimal time allowed under law." IT World. 40 Kovacevich. A Chinese court order is only effective within its jurisdiction and if firms store personally identifiable information abroad it severely limits the ability of government to demand compliance.html>. 2008.com/internet/54788/google-cuts-time-it-retains-ip-address-logs-9-months>. the American firms could choose to locate data in areas more respectful of individual freedoms. 4 Dec.com/2008/11/eric-schmidt-on-whatsahead-in-2009. 15 . 18 Nov. 2006." Weblog post. Incorporated. "Eric Schmidt on what's ahead in 2008.
42 However. GMail Blog. "Tor: The Onion Router.” 44 Tor is widely used by journalists. sophisticated network surveillance efforts. 43 44 45 For an extended discussion of Tor. 43 Tor is a distributed. its existence is the product of volunteers.com/2008/07/making-security-easier. because SSL only protects a user’s privacy once he has connected to the third party. 2008 <http:// gmailblog. SSL need not be the default setting. but companies cognizant of the importance of privacy in China should allow users to choose their preferred setting. and American Internet companies could establish 42 Rideout. according to its creator.en>.blogspot." Weblog post. 24 July 2008. Because speed does matter online.torproject. in fact.Kevin Donovan STIA-305 Term Paper security is latency due to the additional processing needed to encrypt and decrypt packets. 16 . dissidents. Ariel. 2008 <http://www. but the most promising is The Onion Router (Tor). A number of technical solutions exist to confound network surveillance. it requires companies to implement this technology through its properties.html>. please see Annex B. Human Rights Watch. "Making security easier. like those in China. governments and the intelligence community. Although it would technically be feasible to use SSL in all services. 8. anonymous network of volunteered routers through which packets can pass randomly “so no observer at any single point can tell where the data came from or where it's going." The Tor Project. Race to the Bottom: Corporate Complicity in Chinese Internet Censorship. 2006. could still detect from where controversial computing took place by reading the routing information on the packets. tens of thousands of Chinese seem to be using Tor on a weekly basis. much as Google’s American email service now does. PublicationNo. 4 Dec.html. 4 Dec.org/overview. 45 As an open source project supported by users.
4 Dec. If it is clear what content is illegal and what is not. Villeneuve. 46 Less obviously.torproject. 2008 <http://www. Indeed. but within months competitors. users should be given the opportunity to challenge certain blockages through a process similar to the American Digital Millennium 46 Google has provided some support to Tor. companies should use their leverage with the government to advocate on behalf of their users. Internet Censorship Explorer." (2008). but its peer corporations have not. Leaked lists show that phrases as varied as “human rights” and “mascot” can result in censorship. it included a notice to users whenever a search result had been omitted.by publishing the list of censored words and phrases. when Google introduced its censored Chinese search engine. "Guiding Censor's Scissors: Assessing Online Censorship. https:// www. This can be done through transparency. 25 Nov. Nart. "Keyword Lists. In 2006. including domestic giant Baidu. but perhaps even more importantly. These secretive indexes serve as red flags to search algorithms which omit pages including that content. 17 . had begun to inform users that their searches had been censored. but publicly maintaining constantly updated block-lists would allow Chinese Internet users to better grasp acceptable behavior and remain free from legal troubles. 48 Finally. a more informed national dialogue about the role of political speech may occur.Kevin Donovan STIA-305 Term Paper their commitment to freedom of expression and privacy by supporting Tor and similar projects like Psiphon financially or through coding expertise. narrowness and accountability.org/sponsors 47 48 Bambauer.org/2008/11/25/keyword-lists/>. and as a result of this previous action. This had previously not been done. these companies which are offering censored versions of their search engines should limit the effect of this legal requirement. openness." Weblog post. Derek.nartv. 47 This commitment to openness and transparency could be taken a step further . 2008.
cgi#qid130>. in unfettered Internet access versus legally binding requirements to partake in online censorship and surveillance.chillingeffects. 4 Dec. these companies should implement the technical and policy choices outlined above to better facilitate online freedoms in China.org/dmca512/faq. They are not powerless. A Chinese version of this might allow citizens to request the legitimization of certain censored phrases. In reality. Multinational corporations are potent players in this high-stakes game. As their commitment to the Global Network Initiative demonstrates. Berkman Center for Internet and Society.Kevin Donovan STIA-305 Term Paper Copyright Act’s “notice-and-takedown” requirement. such as Google.org website to make clear the material it is forced to remove in the United States. 49 Google already utilizes the independent ChillingEffects. As the early history and current standing of political power on the Internet shows. Given this decision. it is this dialogue that will yield the most change." Chilling Effects. though. following which Google could enter a dialogue with its Chinese handlers to encourage free expression. 49 "FAQ About DMCA Safe Harbor Provisions. 2008 <http://www. it can quickly result in a game of cat and mouse between those desirous of more individual freedom and governments seeking to exert control. Microsoft and Yahoo! are placed in a conflict between an interest. both financial and ethical. freedom of expression and privacy are important concepts that they voluntarily deem worth protecting and promoting. American companies operating in China. 18 .
Connection to the world wide web in China comes from seven state-licensed ISPs who maintain the “backbone” fiber optic cables which connect to international networks. ISP filtering occurs in three primary forms: Figure 1: The process for accessing a website under normal conditions 19 . Because the ISP is the conduit to the Internet at large. ISP filtering plays a substantial part and deserves special recognition. all online content flowing in or out of China must pass through these routers maintained by the ISPs. Internet filtering is a multilayered endeavor in which ISPs.Kevin Donovan STIA-305 Term Paper Annex A Internet Filtering Tools As previously discussed. cyber cafes and more exercise government mandated control over online content. online service providers. unencumbered Internet browsing can be distilled to six steps. media outlets. they assert near total control over the packets passing through their networks. Although the Internet is widely considered too large to regulate. Although the focus of this paper is online service providers. As shown in Figure 1.
112. content filtering takes a look inside the analogous envelope. in my testing through a Chinese proxy server. 2007.192. Packets can be thought of as envelopes where the address and return address (IP addresses) are located in the header while the substantive content is in the payload. This allows individual keywords to be targeted and individual pages to be blocked.187). my Google search queries for “Tiananmen Square” returned reset requests suggesting that the Chinese ISP I was using conducted content filtering and detected the controversial keyword. Steven J. DNS tampering. Inspecting the additional content requires more computing power and specific software which will unite the content split among packets into their contextual meaning. DNS Tampering A user requesting a URL has the request sent to a DNS server which matches mnemonic Figure 2: Reset requests names (georgetown. Without further means. John G. Packets consist of both a header and a payload. Palfrey. utilizes a list of banned domains to identify which user requests to ignore or change. This simple method is also relatively crude: an entire domain will be blocked instead of only suspect pages. TCP/IP. Ed. Rafal Rohozinski and Jonathan Zittrain.." Access Denied : The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering. split content into small pieces of data called packets. and Ross Anderson. Slightly more advanced. a user is stuck with an error page instead of the legitimate request. TCP/IP Content Filtering As explained in the body of this paper. another popular form of filtering. The simplest form of Internet filtering instructs the ISP’s routers to not pass on packets addressed to suspect IP address. Source: Murdoch.Kevin Donovan STIA-305 Term Paper TCP/IP Header Filtering vs. 20 .edu) with the appropriate IP address (67. For example. New York: MIT P. the protocols which define the Internet. "Tools and Technology of Internet Filtering.
but because routers along the Internet need to know where to send packets. human rights organizations and individuals invested in digital privacy.html.torproject.org/overview. All traffic is securely encrypted except the last leg where the Tor network sends the packets to the intended recipient. they would come up short.en Figure 3: The Tor network 21 .Kevin Donovan STIA-305 Term Paper Annex B The Onion Router (Tor) Tor grew out of government research into anonymity online but quickly gained traction from a variety of interested parties including civil liberties advocates. Encryption provides a secure way to communicate privately. As such. intermediaries can analyze header data and learn a surprising amount about a user’s actions. It seeks to close the gap between widely available encryption tools and advancing Internet surveillance. The individual routers on the network have no way of determining anymore than the directly previous and succeeding routers. So even if a government surveilled the network. Tor consists of a distributed network of routers through which users of Tor can send their TCP/IP packets. Source: http://www. the header data must remain unencrypted.
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