Digital and


censorship Differ

I wish I were Nani Jansen

Pranesh Prakash

Twitter: @pranesh_prakash / XMPP: pranesh@cis-india.org / Freenode: the-solipsist

Centre for Internet & Society +

Information Society Project, Yale Law School +

Non-Commercial Users' Constituency, ICANN +

Creative Commons India +

+ + + +


"same human rights online and offline"



printing presses

"common carriers"


"online intermediaries need stronger protection"

"simplistic sovereignty can't extend online"

"too much speech to regulate effectively"


"what's lawful offline can't be made unlawful online"

"court orders!"


"technology makes censorship impossible"

"politicians & bureaucrats don't understand technology"

utopianism / libertarianism / anarchism

"Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind."


State regulation

State-compelled private regulation

State-aided private regulation 

State-independent private regulation

Societal regulation


these "actor-act" categories trace part of the shift in:

"Traditional" vs. "Digital" Censorship

"Visible" vs. "Invisible" Censorship


censorship is not just silencing;

censorship is productive

price for censorship

death, jail, conformity

autonomy, dignity

but we fight back

literature, jokes,

resistance, subversion

(examples abound across geographies, political structures, temporalities)

Invisible Censorship

state-{compelled, aided, independent}

unaccountable private regulation



Invisible Censorship

we can't fight that which we cannot see

(related idea in surveillance:

Panopticon Paradox: what we don't know can't induce conformity)

State-Compelled Private Regulation

"Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules"

(source: World of Warcraft & Yahoo)

only way to study it is as a participant

Policy Sting

CIS's fake, fraudulent, frivolous, fun complaints

6 of 7 complied + no transparency + over-censorship

State-Aided Private Regulation

copyright as censorship infrastructure

(crony politi-capitalism)

State-Independent Private Regulation

jurisprudential justification

contract + property rights


"innovation", "freedom"

as infrastructure of private control

What's Private?

What's State?

municipal wifi?


but: not "plaza pública"!

not all speech regulation is harmful

(casteist / racist / sexist / ableist speech, etc.)

not all private censorship is bad

Haterz hate lolcats

Doges!!! such disgust, so crap


philosophical foundations, societal forces, politics as power, soft paternalism, public accommodation laws, net neutrality, regulation on the basis of network effects, internet as social infrastructure, sousveillance, historical examples, metaphors, (why are you still reading this?)

immediate: visibility through transparency

Regulatory Frameworks for Net Neutrality

By Pranesh Prakash

Regulatory Frameworks for Net Neutrality

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