In August 2008, I had a chance to visit the ‘Berkman Centre for Internet and Society’ at Harvard University (http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/) where I met Robert Faris, Research Fellow of Open Net Initiative (ONI). ONI tries to identify and document the cases of Internet censorship across the World. It’s a collaborative partnership of four leading academic institutions: the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto, Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, the Advanced Network Research Group at the Cambridge Security Programme, University of Cambridge, and the Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford University. IDRC is also involved in supporting its research projects in Asian countries.
Rob shared some interesting and intriguing outcomes of this research as well as some research ideas to pursue in future. He thinks that the outcomes of ONI research is showing that the filtering is growing by the minute around the World. There are more and more country that are filtering the Internet and the scope of what they filter is growing all the time. Rob wishes to extend the research in analyzing the cost benefit of filtering vis-à-vis the alternatives. He thinks ultimate solution is to learn to live with greater freedom of the Internet and find out how to mitigate the negative sides of an open Internet in a more effective way – rather than filtering which we see as a blunt instrument for carrying this out.
Based on the outcomes of this research in about 40 countries, ONI initiative has also published a book ‘Access Denied’. The book cover is attached to this blog.
Listen to my conversation with Robert Faris HERE…