The New Media Institute (NMI) is a research and fact finding organization whose mission is to improve public understanding of issues surrounding the Internet and other forms new media communications. NMI works directly with the news media, researchers, academics, government and industry professionals and serves as a primary resource of facts, statistics and analysis.

The Effect of New Media Censorship on the World - NMI White Paper

By: Noah Eber-Schmid


Freedom of speech is generally acknowledged as a corner stone of a democracy and as crucial to the progressive development of a marketplace of ideas throughout the global community. The protection of freedom of speech is widely enshrined in international and domestic laws including the United States Constitution (First Amendment), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 19), and The European Convention on Human Rights (Article 10).

However, in many countries this right is not fully acknowledged as is the case in countries that restrict instances of speech and expression that may be deemed disrespectful of national heritage (Turkey), insulting to a sitting or historical monarch or ruler (Thailand, Democratic Peoples Republic of (North) Korea), and disrespectful of religion (Pakistan) among other reasons. While some instances of restriction may be tied to established laws and norms, other instances of censorship may be expressions of the consolidated power of an entrenched regime.

The rise of the Internet as a portal for increased intercommunication between citizens of the globalized world has drastically altered the possible effects of government censorship of new media. The simultaneous push of the Internet to directly link people across the globe and allow them to express themselves using websites, blogs, and other instances of user-generated new media and the pull of governments to control their respective populations has greatly altered the possible impacts of censorship on a broader audience which may extend far beyond the sovereign territory of a given regime.

Recent Developments

  • 24 March, 2008, Internet users in Yemen have reported that access to the popular Middle Eastern and North African blog hosting site has been restricted by Yemennet, a state-sponsored Internet Service Provider. The restriction will effect Yemeni bloggers because of the popularity of with bloggers.

  • 2 March 2008, After riots broke out following a contested presidential election, the Armenian President Robert Kocharian, declared a temporary state of emergency which restricted reporting on state and interior matters to the use of officially released state-sponsored information. This restriction limited the ability of Armenian media outlets to objectively report on the issue and has sparked confusion and controversy over the reliability of blog reports as well as the legality of reports using new media on the Internet without using officially backed information.

  • 22 February 2008, After the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority ordered the banning of Pakistani access to the popular video hosting site, Pakistani Internet Service Providers inadvertently restricted some access to the site by non-Pakistani users due to a technologically inadequate tactic. This tactic caused a disruption of access to the site beyond the borders of Pakistan.

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