Friday, April 18, 2008

Featured Book - "Access Denied"

The OpenNet Initiative
Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering
MIT Press, 2007, 005.8 ORG

As the RSA looks forward to hosting two talks next week about the future of the internet; one, between Charles Leadbeater and our own Matthew Taylor, on the former's We-Think, a book about the power of groups of individuals coming together to solve problems, and the ways that the internet can be used to organise and transform these processes.

The other, with Jonathan Zittrain and Becky Hogge, will look at The Future of the Internet: And How to Stop It, discussing the physical infrastructure of the internet itself, and questions whether the current structure's provision of openness, which facilitates the positive effects Leadbeater talks about, can be sustained in the face of criminal exploits, on the one hand, and corporate interests on the other.

Zittrain and Hogge have both contributed to the OpenNet Initiative’s Access Denied, a recent study of methods and programmes designed to filter content and restrict access to certain parts of the internet for certain users through a number of different methods, from censorware programs that prevent access to collusion between governments, internet service providers and web-based companies to punish political crimes. The book provides valuable information both on how such actions are taken, and international case studies of what is happening and where.

Far from just being a problem for thsoe behind the Great Firewall of China, the OpenNet Initiative has shown that the structure of the internet is a precarious thing, and that discussions about its positive and negative cultural impact can only take place because these impacts have been allowed to happen, and that that's not something we can continue to take for granted.

To borrow any of the books discussed in this post, please contact the RSA Library.

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