The OpenNet Initiative released a hefty trove of information on digital filtering, surveillance, and information warfare that took place globally in 2010.

The OpenNet Initiative is a project between the Universities of Toronto, Cambridge, Oxford, and Harvard Law School.

The research, 2010 Year in Review, includes a month-by-month look at who undermined digital freedom and what issues arose in the cyber domain. Interestingly, the United States made the list this year for its seizure of 82 websites on the basis of copyright infringement.

For those who don’t remember, websites that posted links to copyright infringing content were replaced with a government takedown graphic. It started a continuing debate over whether websites that post external links to copyright infringing content should be treated the same as websites that directly post such content.

Of course, these seizures have continued into 2011, and the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) that was introduced shortly after is still being debated.
Looking back, 2010 was an interesting year. BlackBerry services were banned in countries including Saudi Arabia, India, and Bahrain; WikiLeaks began its release of the State Department diplomatic cables; and Google pulled out of China after the regime hacked user’s Gmail accounts.


The list goes on. As a Harvard outline of the Year in Review report states:


In Europe, new legislation in France allowed for filtering of blacklisted sites, while the United Kingdom passed the Digital Economy Bill, which increased the ease of suing repeat copyright violators.

The United States makes the review several times, for the seizure of over 80 sites on the basis of copyright infringement; outcry against the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act; and the loosening of export controls on instant messaging, email, and other Internet communication services to Iran, Sudan, and Cuba.

Recent unrest in the Middle East has lead Egypt, Libya, and Bahrain to experiment with greater Internet controls, ensuring that 2011 promises to be an equally eventful year in the world of Internet filtering and surveillance

Of course, as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stated, when it comes to digital freedom, China is the real enemy. According to AP:

“China has aggressive and sophisticated interception technology that places itself between every reader inside China and every information source outside China,” Assange told Britain’s New Statesman magazine.

“We’ve been fighting a running battle to make sure we can get information through and there are now all sorts of ways Chinese readers can get on to our site,” he said in extracts of the interview published on the magazine’s website.

This is well reflected report, as well as in the “Access Controlled” report published earlier this year by the OpenNet Initiative. It states that “China has devoted extensive resources to building one of the largest and most sophisticated filtering systems in the world.” Many of the harshest actions taken were by the Chinese regime.

For those that interested in digital freedom, the report is a must-read. For those who are more visual, check out the maps illustrating global censorship.

Photo Credit: The Battle of Stalingrad. Telegraph Worker, 1943.

About The Author

Joshua Philipp is the founder and editor of He's also an award-winning journalist at Epoch Times.

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