As the web has grown from an academic experiment to a mass media, parents, politicians, and demagogues have looked for ways of controlling the information that it contains. What’s behind these attempts at control?
Some people believe that explicit information on the web about sex and sexuality, drugs, and similar themes is inappropriate for younger people.
Some politicians believe that writings advocating hate crimes should be banned.
Some leaders believe that information about free elections and democratic political systems may be destabilizing to their regimes.
Some special interest groups have sought to limit or eliminate discussion of religion, ethnic concerns, historical accounts (some of contested accuracy), gender-specific issues, medical procedures, economic material, and a host of other materials.
It is amazing how ideas and words can threaten some people!
Because it is nearly impossible to impose strong controls on a large, distributed system that is operated by hundreds of thousands of individuals in thousands of jurisdictions, each with different social and cultural norms, attention has turned instead to technology for controlling the web’s users.