From Iran to China to Russia, there's an escalating 'cat-and-mouse' game between the censors and those trying to evade them.
This article is from The Technocrat, MIT Technology Review's weekly tech policy newsletter about power, politics, and Silicon Valley. To receive it in your inbox every Friday, sign up here.
I want to talk about the battle that’s raging every day between people who want to censor online content and those who want to protect access to a free and open internet.
It also relates to a recent scoop about a new Google product that’s designed to make it easier for developers to build censorship-resistant apps. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this is a space worth paying attention to.
Questions about who gets to control the internet and who gets access to online information are central to the future of our world. They have ramifications for geopolitics, free speech, national security, political organizing, human rights, equity, and power distribution in general. And I promise, it’s not as niche, or as simplistic, as you may think.
We’re in the midst of a quiet technological arms race between the censors and those trying to evade them. Lots of people are already aware of China’s Great Firewall and the digital ice age in North Korea, but over the past two years, we’ve seen interesting developments in censorship in Russia, especially related to the war on Ukraine, and in Iran, during the latest wave of pro-democracy protests last fall.