Monday afternoon, Melora Ranney Norman spoke about Censorship on the ‘Net 2013. She provided excellent notes and citations for this presentation herself on her blog post, “NELA 2013: Sources, ‘Censorship on the ‘Net 2013′ Program.” She started off with a clip from a TED Talk by Rebecca MacKinnon, a journalist and the co-founder of Global Voices Online, a non-profit started at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.
Melora is a passionate speaker and a fast talker, so here are just a few important points and resources.
- Private companies (such as Apple) apply censorship standards more narrowly than the First Amendment would allow, i.e. they censor speech that is protected by the First Amendment.
- Before the internet, people had physical sovereignty over what they could do with their information; now, with the internet, private companies control what people can and cannot do with their information.
- Should we have Banned Internet Week like we have Banned Book Week?
- Libraries that receive federal E-rate discounts for internet access and therefore comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) often do not realize that CIPA only applies to images, not text; the filters that are in place are much stronger than they need to be. In some libraries, all computers (not just those in the children’s area) are filtered. While an adult can ask for the filters to be turned off, they might feel uncomfortable doing so; furthermore, the library staff may not have the ability to do so. Institutions/individuals “misunderstand CIPA and filter more than they have to.”
- Another problem with filters is that their “blacklists” (what they block) are proprietary, so “you don’t know what’s being blocked.” How can libraries make an informed decision about which filters to use if the companies that provide the filters refuse to make their specific criteria available? There is a parallel here with vendors that provide “discovery layers” (portals to search all of the library’s materials through one interface), but keep their processes secret.
- Instead of forbidding or blocking social media sites in school libraries, we should teach students how to use it responsibly; debunk myths and encourage safe use.
- “Librarians are not law enforcement.”
- “Not Censorship But Selection” by Lester Ashiem, 1953
- Not in Front of the Children: “indecency,” censorship and the innocence of youth, by Marjorie Heins
- Access Denied: the practice and policy of global internet filtering, edited by Ronald Deibert, MIT Press, 2008
- Open Net Initiative: “Our aim is to investigate, expose and analyze Internet filtering and surveillance practices in a credible and non-partisan fashion. We intend to uncover the potential pitfalls and unintended consequences of these practices, and thus help to inform better public policy and advocacy work in this area.”
- Search engines that protect your privacy and anonymity: DuckDuckGo (“Search anonymously. Find instantly”) and ixquick (“the world’s most private search engine”). See donttrack.us.
- TOR, “free software and an open network that helps you defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security.”
- The Filter Bubble: what the internet is hiding from you, by Eli Pariser