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Internet Filtering: A Solution to Harmful and Illegal Content?

Conference paper
Authors Marie Eneman
Published in Proceedings of 2019 IEEE SmartWorld, Ubiquitous Intelligence & Computing, Advanced & Trusted Computing, Scalable Computing & Communications, Cloud & Big Data Computing, Internet of People and Smart City Innovation
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Language en
Keywords Harmful and illegal content, Technological regulation, Internet filtering, Child abuse material, Critical information systems research
Subject categories Human Computer Interaction, Information technology, Informatics, Technology and social change, Sociology of Law


There is an increasing public concern about harmful and illegal content, such as terrorist and extremist content, child abuse material available on Internet. As a response, many countries have implemented Internet filtering as a tool to regulate certain types of harmful and illegal content on Internet. This paper will focus upon the use of Internet filtering for child abuse material. On the one hand, Internet filtering is described as a tool to regulate child abuse material, on the other hand Internet filtering is associated with concern for important ethical questions related to effectiveness and censorship strongly connected to important democratic values and rights such as freedom of expression, privacy etc. Therefore, this paper addresses the question how democratic societies can recognise, evaluate, and address ethical issues raised by the implementation and use of filtering systems to prevent and control the distribution of harmful and illegal content such as child abuse material. The analysis draws on ideas from the critical tradition of information systems research. It concludes by recommending that a more discourse-oriented style of governance may be more suited to complex socio-legal-technical questions such as Internet filtering than a top-down approach. This paper contributes with theoretical knowledge to the debate of this topical issue and thereby support policy-making on a national and international level.

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