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Internet Way of Networking 23 December 2020

Chapter Members Pool Ideas to Inspire New Use Case on Content Filtering

Diego Rafael Canabarro
By Diego Rafael CanabarroSenior Regional Policy Manager - Latin America and the Caribbean
Katie Jordan
Katie JordanFormer Director, Public Policy and Technology

Earlier this year, chapter members from around the world were asked to assist a government minister with an important project. The minister had been tasked with giving an emergency briefing on content filtering and needed the chapter members to help assess an important question. Would the critical properties of the Internet Way of Networking – the foundation that makes the Internet work for everyone – be impacted by the minister’s new policy on content filtering?

While some of the chapter members held experience in Internet policy, others were relative novices. But as they explored the multiple dimensions and implications of different filtering and blocking techniques, they had a new, powerful tool in their arsenal: the Internet Impact Assessment Toolkit.

The government minister was fictitious, part of a mock scenario created by the Internet Society in collaboration with chapter members participating in chapter workshops. It was a powerful demonstration of how the Internet Impact Assessment Toolkit can evaluate the real-world impact of proposed Internet policy.

During the Latin American Chapter Workshop, about 140 people joined the session dedicated to the discussion of content filtering. Once the mock case was presented, participants were invited to explore the various angles of different filtering and blocking techniques. They also discussed how these could be detrimental to the critical properties of the Internet Way of Networking.

The bulk of the discussions were about how governments have turned to Internet infrastructure to enforce law and regulations as opposed to only targeting/affecting the application layer, especially in countries where major platforms do not have a legal presence. Participants presented interesting insights on how bad protocol – and service-based filtering, including by telecommunication providers – might be detrimental to the general-purpose nature of the network. They also suggested it could be an obstacle to one of the features of the Internet that fuels innovation online: its layered architecture of interoperable and re-usable building blocks.

We used the lessons learned during the mock scenario, including the expertise of our global community, to create a new resource that will help others be even more effective in protecting the Internet Way of Networking.

We are excited to announce a new addition to the Internet Impact Assessment Toolkit: a use case on content filtering.

Topics and discussions that arose from the mock case enhanced the use case. Chapter workshop participants used what they’d learned, group feedback, and the draft use case to provide additional feedback following the workshop. Additionally, in Latin America 25 participants volunteered to help the Internet Way of Networking team enlarge the scope of the toolkit, which included the production of additional use cases and case studies that delve into relevant local technical and policy developments.

We are thankful to everyone who took time to provide feedback and suggestions on the draft and to the chapter members who took time to participate in this process, sending feedback on the content filtering use case.

As policymakers and technologists around the world adopt new policies and rules related to content filtering, how can you help ensure they respect the critical properties of the Internet’s foundation? You can use this new use case and others to advocate for the Internet Way of Networking.

Learn more about the Internet Way of Networking and the Internet Impact Assessment Toolkit.


Image by Paper Textures via Unsplash

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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