It is often said that you can see the Great Wall of China from the space- it turns out it is a myth. But you can surely see China’s Great Firewall from world maps illuminating Facebook traffic. The gaping hole of darkness, in the land with the world’s largest internet population, shows the impact of China’s internet censorship. The Great Firewall of China (known as GFW) blocks foreign websites, including Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It also monitors internet conversations through keyword filtering.
Network shutdowns impacting an entire country are now almost non-existent, but the practice of shutting down communications in certain cities or areas of a country, or suspending certain services continues globally. This has happened over the past decade or so for a variety of reasons, sometimes due to national security concerns but also to prevent the organisation of protests or the spread of civil unrest.
IPO Affiliate Sarah Logan investigates the international expansion of one of China’s biggest internet technology companies, Baidu, using Baidu’s recent attempted expansion into Vietnam as a test case and taking a mixed methods approach. This paper contributes a new area of research on the geopolitical associations of internet technology platforms to existing studies of the social, political implication of information technology. It adds to studies of the state in cyberspace by showing that, at least for Chinese companies in Vietnam, the state is embodied in perceptions of the platform, even outside the state’s physical borders: the company itself is ‘bordered.’
This reflection on the report “Benchmarking Public Demand for Internet Freedom: Russia’s Appetite for Internet Control,” seeks to argue that protecting internet freedom is not possible without a shift in public opinion. Using Russian examples, Asmolov suggests that public opinion concerning internet regulation is a function of whether the online communications environment is perceived as dangerous–giving officials a chance to play an instrumental role in fostering a sense of peril online and fomenting an “internet as threat” narrative in the minds of the public.