The Guardian recently posted an online map documenting the presence of Internet censorship around the world. The map takes into account four types of content targeted by censorship: political, social, security and internet tools. Each country is either colored gray (if no data is available) or given a color on a scale from yellow to red, with yellow indicating "no evidence" of censorship and red indicating "pervasive" censorship.
Internet censorship penetrates all areas of the world, from here in the United States to across the world in the Middle East and China. The map offers a useful though incomplete overview of Internet censorship around the world. For the countries on the map currently designated as gray ("no data"), the Guardian requests its readers' help on gathering more information. It is not clear what the Guardian does with the data gathered this way from its readers. Most likely it is used as a lead to further investigation rather than taken to be fact, otherwise the reliability of the map would be questionable.
Overall, this map is too broad and vague to be taken as the sole source of information about Internet censorship around the world. However, it provides an adequate starting point for investigating the topic. The map raises some interesting points. For instance, China, Burma and Iran are the only countries listed as having "pervasive" or "substantial" censorship in all of the four categories. These countries will likely be mentioned often in future blogs about Internet censorship.
Internet censorship is a reflection of deep bonds between computers and society. Ever since the Internet became available to everyday consumers, computers have taken on an increasingly bigger role in today's world and, consequently, in today's societies.
The Internet has undoubtedly revolutionized the way humans communicate. Governments and other organizations often fear the power of this efficient method of sharing ideas, so they attempt to control it through censorship. Up until now, the increased attempts on enforcing censorship on the Internet have paralleled the increase in power and popularity of the Internet.
However, in the future this trend may change. As the Internet becomes an increasingly important means of communication, Internet users will naturally value their freedom of expression more. The result of this ongoing conflict between Internet censorship and freedom of expression is unclear. Eventually one will have to be sacrificed, at least partially, for the other.