The CONTROL category encompasses various efforts to regulate Internet activity. It includes measurements of both technical and non-technical attempts to control this flow by governments, private companies, and independent actors.

Both democratic and authoritarian governments regulate the content their citizens can view online; these regulations are becoming increasingly sophisticated, focused not only on the outright blocking of information but also on using more indirect mechanisms to control what users are able to see and do. Private companies are also increasingly involved in the Internet control landscape, whether due to government pressure or of their own volition. Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks—which have taken down the websites of government agencies, banks, blogging platforms, online retailers, independent media, and other organizations around the world—and malware, which has been used against both government and civilian targets, are also a concern.

Related policy questions center upon the mix of regulation and policy that best serves public interest: what are the costs and benefits of different approaches to regulating online activity to address issues such as cybersecurity, copyright infringement, online defamation, hacking, spam, and criminal activity? What are the public obligations and liabilities of private platforms and intermediaries?

Current Control Data

From Herdict

Herdict is a user-driven platform for identifying web blockages—including denial of service attacks, censorship, and other filtering—as they happen. Internet Monitor displays the following data from Herdict on each country's "Control" page, where available:

  • The total number of "inaccessible" and "accessible" reports
  • The country's rank in number of reports, as compared to other countries
  • Top reported sites in each of four categories: political, social, Internet tools, and other

From Mapping Local Internet Control

The Berkman Center’s Mapping Local Internet Control project explores how autonomous systems—generally Internet service providers, but also large companies, universities, and other such organizations who act as independent entities on the Internet—in a given country connect to one another and to the rest of the world, with a particular eye for developing metrics for the relative costs of controlling the Internet in each country. Please see the project’s data files, methods page, and 2011 report for more information.

  • IP addresses per point of control
    Roughly measures the number of different organizations required to have access to the traffic of the large majority of users within the country. The number of IP addresses for each country refers to allocated rather than actively used addresses; a point of control is defined as the minimum number of autonomous systems required to connect to 90 percent of the IP addresses in the country.

From the OpenNet Initiative

The OpenNet Initiative’s data provides an overview of the most recent ONI ratings of the breadth and depth of Internet censorship in 74 countries across four content categories (political, social, Internet tools and conflict/security), as well measures of how transparently and consistently this filtering is applied. For more information on the ONI’s data collection methods, please see the ONI FAQ. For the ONI dataset, please see the ONI’s data page. For ONI's testing lists and additional data, please see the GitHub account of Citizen Lab, one of the OpenNet Initiative's three constituent partners.

  • Filtering: political
    Measures filtering primarily of websites that express views in opposition to those of the current government. Content more broadly related to human rights, freedom of expression, minority rights, and religious movements is also considered here.
  • Filtering: social
    Measures filtering of material related to sexuality, gambling, and illegal drugs and alcohol, as well as other topics that may be socially sensitive or perceived as offensive.
  • Filtering: conflict/security
    Measures filtering of content related to armed conflicts, border disputes, separatist movements, and militant groups.
  • Filtering: Internet tools
    Measures filtering of websites that provide e-mail, Internet hosting, search, translation, Voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone service, and circumvention methods.
  • Filtering (transparency)
    Measures how transparently filtering is applied.
  • Filtering (consistency)
    Measures how consistently filtering is applied.

We monitor and report on three main facets of the Internet:

ACCESS: What does it take to get online? How much does it cost? How fast is the connection?

CONTROL: How is content regulated—blocked, taken down, hacked—online? To what extent? By whom?

ACTIVITY: What do people do online? What information do they access? What channels do they use to communicate?