This publication is a follow-up to the 2011 edition of Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch), an annual report that offers a civil society perspective on critical emerging issues in information societies worldwide. The theme for GISWatch 2011 was internet rights and democratisation, with a focus on freedom of expression and association online.
The purpose of this report is to look at the increasing trend for internet intermediaries to be used to police and enforce the law on the internet and even to mete out punishments. As well as undermining the fundamental rights of freedom of communication, privacy and right to a fair trial, this approach is serving to create borders in the online world, undermining the very openness that gives the internet its value for democracy and, indeed, for the economy.
Cyberspace is at a watershed moment. Technological transformations have brought about an architectonic change in the communications ecosystem. Cyber crime has exploded to the point of becoming more than a nuisance, but a national security concern. There is a seriously escalating arms race in cyberspace as governments scale up capabilities in their armed forces to fight and win wars in this domain. Telecommunication companies, internet service providers (ISPs), and other private sector actors now actively police the internet.