The Architecture of Invisible Censorship: How Digital and Meatspace Censorship Differ

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The Architecture of Invisible Censorship: How Digital and Meatspace Censorship Differ
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We often believe that the Internet routes around censorship; at the same time we often feel the same rules that should apply to offline speech (e.g., not being removed without a court order, etc.) should apply to online speech as well; we often understand that there are differences between offline and online censorship, but what are the implications of the intermediated digital lives that we lead on how we engage in and combat against censorship? He probes the idea of "invisible censorship" as the dominant mode of modern digital censorship, in a break from previous forms of social, private, or state-directed censorship which were mostly visible and hence challengeable, and presents tentative thoughts on what we do legally, technologically, and socially to uncloak invisible censorship.
Architecture Computer cluster Data acquisition Digital signal
Term (mathematics) Software testing Disk read-and-write head
Data mining Software Different (Kate Ryan album) Variety (linguistics) Similarity (geometry) Right angle Instance (computer science)
Word Software Term (mathematics) Block (periodic table) Video game Right angle
Key (cryptography) Physical law Sheaf (mathematics) Electronic mailing list Set (mathematics) Instance (computer science) Regular graph Equivalence relation Degree (graph theory) Different (Kate Ryan album) Telecommunication Video game Speech synthesis
Inclusion map Internetworking Independence (probability theory) Directory service
Internetworking Physical law Mögliche-Welten-Semantik Speech synthesis Line (geometry) Catastrophism
Pairwise comparison Different (Kate Ryan album) Order (biology) Instance (computer science) Endliche Modelltheorie Coprocessor
Pairwise comparison Internetworking Term (mathematics) Cyberspace Streaming media Entire function
Category of being Shift operator Term (mathematics) Multiplication sign Right angle
Regulator gene State of matter Direction (geometry) Moment (mathematics) Speech synthesis Extension (kinesiology) Form (programming)
Regular graph Regulator gene State of matter Term (mathematics) Internetworking Order (biology) State of matter Independence (probability theory)
Category of being Shift operator Ring (mathematics) Different (Kate Ryan album) Digitizing
Context awareness Speech synthesis
Multiplication sign Surface of revolution Conformal map Reading (process)
Independence (probability theory) Form (programming)
State of matter Independence (probability theory)
Category of being Term (mathematics) State of matter Instance (computer science)
Web service Term (mathematics) Maxima and minima Rule of inference
Content (media) Web service Standard deviation Different (Kate Ryan album) Internetworking Term (mathematics) Operator (mathematics) Mathematical singularity Speech synthesis Instance (computer science) Form (programming) Row (database)
Web service Different (Kate Ryan album) Search engine (computing) Website Resultant
Content (media) Process (computing) Natural number State of matter Term (mathematics) Statement (computer science)
Internetworking State of matter Basis <Mathematik> Contrast (vision) Disk read-and-write head Traffic reporting Row (database) Physical system
Category of being Web service Exterior algebra Regulator gene Causality State of matter Term (mathematics) Independence (probability theory) Design by contract Right angle Traffic reporting Row (database)
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Web service Term (mathematics) Decision theory Authorization
Facebook State of matter Physical law
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Web service Regulator gene Formal grammar Speech synthesis Cognition
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Point (geometry) Process (computing) Regulator gene Information Semiconductor memory Internetworking Multiplication sign Virtual machine Sound effect Speech synthesis Instance (computer science) Figurate number
Internetworking Basis <Mathematik> Computer network Force
Context awareness Process (computing) Speech synthesis
Revision control Observational study Information Personal digital assistant Multiplication sign Speech synthesis Mereology
Facebook Dependent and independent variables Personal digital assistant Multiplication sign Physical law Sound effect Right angle Mass Event horizon Error message Number
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Axiom of choice Multiplication Similarity (geometry) Bit Insertion loss Mereology System call Hand fan Category of being Web service Exterior algebra Personal digital assistant Internetworking Different (Kate Ryan album) Term (mathematics) Search algorithm Operator (mathematics) Videoconferencing Speech synthesis Self-organization Computing platform Physical system
Data acquisition
at the MIT
at and yeah that yeah excellent I'm very
happy to be here and and actually but today I'll be talking about an idea been mulling over in my head for a while but I haven't really got a chance to write down % so you guys are tired my test audience for this and needs to be kind of I'll be talking about this
idea called the of called invisible censure of that and that have been thinking about and how it's currently architected 1 other way to think about this could be in terms of how digital and meets the sentient actually refer for those of you who grew up kinda expecting the and the and and
I'm not sure unfortunately I'm of mines planning for college are you can find in multiple networks and I have multiple affiliations primarily of I work with this thing called the Center for Internet and Society based in Bangalore supports a character and do you work in a variety of different topics but just straight into the the meat of the
topic as where of there's there are some similarities of people will say to offline and online censorship for instance if you take the same human rights should apply offline and online that was a big to be in the
human rights committee about our and this was adopted as a principal basically they would say that what we think of in terms of publishing and printing presses offline are about the word online in terms of your little holes etc. for those those blocks software that you think of what they would also say that the things like common characters of just as you wouldn't
hold the telephone company or you wouldn't hold of the Postal Service reliable for of the terrorist threats that are sent through the solution to all of his life goes common refrain get people to think
the different that online intermediaries need a much stronger degree of protection and then of life don't have for instance the equivalent of of India's section 79 of that the act or the USS of no Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act etc. for offline players really doing and there's a different set of keys what's around that of people would continue can't extend simple ideas of so many of online because your juice that that
was ordered list whereas although regular laws you have around around those that restrict freedom of speech are restricted to national borders dropped for the differences of theirs just as we can and
wants feature online directory thinking about immediacy since 1947 when we got independence of how much would people have expressed themselves through newspapers and
television and radio and compare that to how many people would actually have found of voice since the late nineties on the internet I this thought experiment I think
it's clearly the Internet that becomes the winner people can greatly express themselves in only that just wasn't possible world here which has resulted in too much on indicated in bold line in the sand
threatening speech which has resulted in a catastrophe for our speech laws and we should just not try them directly to
get the summers are in India for instance some things that are not unlawful of
offline are suddenly legal legal online through 1 model talk about the leader of the Sudanese people would say forget about just the substantive of comparison of what's legal and what's illegal but the processor should see you just as you can't ban the book without a court order you should be dependent book without a court order rider yet there are differences technology make censorship and possible politicians and bureaucrats just
don't understand technology which is why we're making all these awful attempts at Internet censorship of and there is this entire stream of of of utopian in anarchic that that existed since the of since at least the early nineties when it comes to of vision of
cyberspace I don't think any clear answers of looking just go back and forth in terms of comparisons in terms of metaphors etc. but what I find
useful in thinking about these issues is actually 2 of think of it in terms of categories and how categories
shift of in of over time right so the it this is 1 way of categorizing of censorship based on actors who was acting and the kind of act
actors right so there can be no direct Nikkei state regulation of speech in democratic countries this is not really the preferred moment
more of it at the very least it's happening to much lesser extent now than it used to then there's this and Napoli of of state compelled private regulations the he did and the independent private regulation these are the most of common forms of censorship now know in
array of state compelled private regulation is what generally happens in terms of Internet censorship because the government's doing really only in
the infrastructure anymore so the governments have to go on to all the people of to viewable to regulate of these pieces enough to send out order so others and this applies not just a censorship of thing about surveillance as well and I
think most of these categories actually applied to do anything about surveillance to and so on and I think these categories which are not getting into into into detail the ring right now they help us think about the ships that cost both in in
the difference between traditional and digital censorship as well as the shift between what I think of as visible and
invisible censorship he and I think these 2 ships are happening simultaneously and now I will explain what I what of is invisible censorship but 1st think about the fact that censorship is
never never just pure or silencing of speech censorship is very productive the it always has been yeah whatever built so context you take and
you try and applied to that always happened productive of course there's a huge price for censorship of course people have die resisting censorship of course people have
been jailed of course conformity is created in a minute in society of course use of economy it's an afferent to the dignity of course all of these things are true but at the same time he always always like back whatever kind examples you t the always talk about whether it's in Franklin was seen or whether it is in in China through the cultural revolution and now whether it is politically sensitive or whether it is cultural censorship whether it is an online or offline of whether it is of no Victor you're reading this you've always created literature about it either directly confronting it or
indirectly always chill about it always resisted and supported censorship yet this is I
fear would be more difficult in the new world of independent censorship
invisible censorship by the what and how the invisible centralized because yeah the older forms of censorship which were primarily
Igor societal censorship societal essential for what you see on an end-user or directs the censorship by this thing what you can and can't say those things which are easy to see are changing that technology what you're getting is more and more private censorship that is
unaccountable gregating these 3 reforms that I met od spoke about the compelled still he did in state independent censorship and also self-censorship and that's also an important
category that's very difficult to see you don't know when yourselves and it's it's not easy to see when someone else's self-censoring for instance and the difficulty of invisible censorship the difficulty caused by it is that we cannot fight that which can't see and perhaps slightly more easier
of 2 to actually think go through some examples of what I'm thinking about in terms of invisible censorship so state compelled private retaliation 1 on easy example would be those intermediaries
guidelines rules that were passed by the Indian government not by the Parliament by the executive of a few years ago
Vera what did they do with this all these basically said that means minimum terms of service of clauses should be there in terms of service of all intermediaries regardless of who you are and this is the mechanism of
enforcement of instances service if you receive a complaint from a private individual about quietly additional things you have to remove the content and where do we get the standard terms from from things like that that you as a World of Warcraft forgot who etc. again if you wanna see the rest of the world of policy laundering I think this is a of MRI world of examples to to actually look at how all these policies are so similar to each other and if you want to see the differences between of of between policy and practice also in really do need to look through and the only way to actually observed that the only way to actually it is by becoming a participant in this speech so because it's the normal records are kept off forms center complained to which each immediately of any sort and whether into to react upon it or not so what be at the Center for Internet and Society was read the policy sting operation so we
sent the fraudulent frivolous and all I think from complete
to 7 different intermediaries to of different kinds of intermediaries as well summer search engines somewhere e-commerce websites etc. and that the famine was eventually sticks out of the 7 complied in we have defined complied with because 1 was relying on another for its services then the 6 compliant and powerless since of
websites there remained idea from search results or of a bunch of common from a political of from a newspaper were removed without anyone actually knowing about it without anyone find out about it
again this shows the fact that there is no transparency at all in this process it was with no visibility about what was and was not removed there was no way of visibility in terms of process in terms of of you know of due process and principles of natural justice there was no chance giving to those whose content was removed to be able to see this is actually a perfectly the goal state and I need and not just legal it's perfectly sensible statement and why are you considering set of sensors right the anode no person ever wrote back to see I have to offer
these questions it so those and and most of the intermediaries and raises questions either they removed it thinking that they remove and after telling us that they wouldn't movement which is interesting and obviously this is
resulting in more censorship stuff that is perfectly legal and not just perfectly legal but perfectly acceptable in a society of was also removed from the Internet on the basis of our complaints and there were no records
of this whatsoever nobody ever found out about it is the head he told the world in a report that the role that this has happened that we're able to get all of this room nobody would have found that contrast this with the system of of of of state
directs the regulations right where this is much more often the report records which published in the newspaper to find out about it you can't challenge this you can't challenge just because you don't know if there are other examples of stinky private regulation so 1 easy example of this is copyright right which has no copyright enforcement needs is seen in L infrastructure as that of censorship of the state independent private regulation of which you know has different jurisprudential our justification so 1 of them is the idea of
contracts that you this is a service we're offering if you don't want the service don't accept the terms of service know use more 1 of those thousands of alternative services that exists the other is an idea of property rights of so think about a restaurant right you can't just go into a restaurant and hold of around for whatever political cause you believe it because that's private property
and the like the Facebook employs a similar of justification for why they should be allowed to put whatever kind of rules we want for the years except that that's not necessary the rhetoric we
use the rhetoric used is that of a new mediation that of freedom of autonomy and all of this rhetoric allows for the existence of an infrastructure of private control of an and so when we think about into liable to be have to think much more deeply
about what exactly the protecting intermediaries from another 1 in a world where it's difficult to see what's behind it and what's the it really is it's I I I often don't know so of municipal Wi-Fi and there's a reason the birth of that of that will be coming up that I read about where the author talks about have
municipal Wi-Fi as in the US have terms of service that you know the government can't really put in place but then you and then he has a legal scholar delves into it it's actually a difficult decision to see whether
this the municipality can do this not because it's of course it's of public-private of partnership and infrastructures readout out that Facebook Facebook is larger than many see these because almost as large as in here and yet it feasible does not have to abide
by any of the laws that the government has Facebook does not have to abide by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which applies to states and 1 of
the Covenant to conceptualize I disagree with that of an quite respectfully with Frank Leroux who's below the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression is written responses to stick the test reports of 4 of the UN on this on free speech issues and but 1 thing right disagree with him as he likens the Internet to that allows us to think about how
a public square I don't think the Internet is a tall like a public square perhaps it should be but it is is more like shopping malls
and we have to be cognizant of that fact if you to change it if you're to to effectively challenge and also have to recognize the fact that not
all speech regulations harmful but there are many kinds of speech that society should try and grammar should try and minimize and we have to be cognizant of the fact that not all private censorship bad either if I'm running defining the service for a few of my
friends or if I'm running a blog and I don't want pictures of cats and all and all sorts I don't want you know things that otherwise would be legal again I should be free to actually of state that I don't want it and delete any comments that violate my policy so not all private censorship is bad and not all private entities need to follow all those those rules and have all the responsibilities of a and so this is
becomes a very complicated question in essence right and and so and I think the question of of how do we and how do we
unpack this world of both state and private of each like private regulation of regulation of speech is a very complicated 1 and that's the same kind of competition where you have to delve into that when we think about invisible censorship their interests and their intrinsically linked and there are numerous nuances of what do we need to 1 thing we can do is make things visible through greater transparency of 1 thing we can do is to increase of the memory of the internet as a square of that we that we lack machine for instance does or for increasing transparency the way that the chilling effect clearinghouse us and Google actually in some of this does a good job to whenever there's a of Figure removed from you to you know of the fact that it was there at 1 point of time I never just disappears right you're told that it was removed and and what he's your mental why
it was room that I honestly help idea wrong reason but you're given that information that I was very important similarly Google remove something from its search results it says something that would have otherwise shown up for the search criteria is now I'm not showing about it that's really wouldn't
and that I think is the beginning of the despite to make visible censorship was thank you very much
soon we will minutes for questions of any questions yes know you so on on the seriously if you say that some some
sense especially helpful to have
because it is desirable in society so that is something you said that the people won't like this they take each that whatever there would be some elected to the because they think that if you think of a grownup society a society can always say OK no we don't want that so somebody says something you can
challenge and so I don't think that we should that we trust private companies to do
this job of us and and especially if we see that these companies are off from complicated different cultural context so we have the American companies and how can we trust them to to regulate the speech in Europe or even in in Asia where there is less familiar with this with traditions and yes as I'm very very maximalist maybe I'm not removing
as concept of support and your version that I'm very extremist and not putting stuff down because I think we should just society with stochastic based on on this I think this is also the best way to to increase the
transparency of our societies and I agree of time we don't necessarily agree that more speech is always the right answer to speech you don't you find offensive sometimes that that doesn't work speech you harmful and you don't naturally have a way of countering get more speech of deformation is of and there's some studies done around of falls headlines and false news articles or information being carried on them and how corrections don't really help solve the problem how retractions leader don't really help solve the problem itself but that issue Part I largely agree with you that and then I was talking about censorship of that some censorship might actually be desirable I was necessary of thinking in terms of private and infrastructures obsessed about societal censorship that of you if you find some speech you know objectionable I think you should actually take out of march in the middle of you know your public square about what you should challenge ideas of you know in a vibrant democratic society so yeah I didn't bring any other questions yeah had 1 of the things we thought that a lot and I have a question on 1 other part of the invisible censuses which was also the self-censorship that humans right I mean in that case basically do you have any ideas on how to report that because I mean how do we could something that you had to with the way so here I think what he calls for self-censorship this
of surveillance is mass surveillance right and back something we we do need to attack if you're correct active site itself such that 1 the halls of self-censorship is our is then then there is no excessive societal or people censorship and our and the chilling effect that that causes so even if there might not be a law against what you want to see you feel that what you're about to see my private something at even that is necessarily true that is also causes of self-censorship and so the solution that is a more open and free society so out of that that might sound like the liver response but I really I don't see any of the re of actually targeting self-censorship the hi and the on and I appreciate your it's not much in a few weeks ago that there was a lot of us about the TTI be treated the North America Europe and
a during that time there was a political initiative here that also rallied in Facebook and I try to invite a number of my friends in my case for the 1st book I tried to buy them at 2 that facebook event and I got very obscure Facebook error messages that said I I'm sorry because of your behavior in the hands we cannot allow you to invite people to this event and I tried to complain to Facebook and was very like a black hole there was like a front cover of the chosen amongst us you know and uh do you have to you have similar experiences you have an opinion on that leverages of thank you I think that the
that the very 1st question of the or I think quite literally of patterns of all examples wanted wanted a couple of of these kinds of of censorship of really because it does affect all right of association by and you can come on I think there are actually existing thousands of such examples but and how do we can do this I uh that the concept of part 1 of the things we do need this to say not be dependent on centralized services like it's not give too much power to support these centralized
corporations to use more federated technology 1 thing be
and I think that this part of the answer of part of the answer is this lies in in all of these things change you have to change our our thinking about corporations in the world where these fan across multiple jurisdictions in a world where there mostly dealing with intangibles like our our detail and and our private information but in a world where they're dealing with things like intellectual property etc. the need to change many of our talks about operations and also in companies to encourage of what of legal scholar and in the US calls of the safety laboratories of of the internet the fact that all of these different platforms have different kinds of systems for dealing with different kinds of services and between similar platforms also there might be different terms of service and different reflect the operator and and I can lead to encourage that so that you actually have a meaningful choice between multiple services so that you actually can see things because really restrictive it doesn't allow for for meaningful political speech right now it's search algorithm for video has has changed our me making out of commercial organization short for noncommercial organizations of etcetera etcetera so you need to have a meaningful alternative sometimes there there isn't 1 in which case we need to think about how we regulate may be a little bit more like a state of but otherwise we need to create these alternatives and and sustain them so of us take very
much of loss titles over me through this is also the operator that will move into that is where the the bad