Concluding Remarks and Future Work

Concluding Remarks and Future Work

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9973-9.ch014


In this book, the authors examined the need for a fair internet regulation system (FIRS) to be developed and the possibility to implement it in different countries with the acceptance of the general public. The issue was examined with three different research methods: literature review, technical analysis of current IRSs, and surveys around the world. In this chapter, the authors present their concluding remarks along with their thoughts about future work regarding the need for a fair internet regulation system (FIRS) to be developed and implemented in different countries with the acceptance of the general public.
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Final Remarks

Many widespread beliefs regarding Internet freedom are actually misconceptions as the Internet had been regulated from its very first steps, since 1990 (Ehrilch, 2014). Additionally, there are already in use two main categories of Internet regulation systems: the open and the silent IRSs (Ballard, 2006). Unexpectedly, the formers are quite popular among authoritarian regimes, while the latter are implemented mainly in Western democracies (CTV News, 2006; ABC, 2007; Pauli, 2008).

A great example is CleanFeed, a silent IRS that went live during 2004 in the United Kingdom by British Telecommunications. Many IT experts and media analysts criticised the UK government’s choice to go with a silent IRS, expressing their fear that this could set a dangerous precedent for the rest of the democratic countries around the world (Thompson, 2004; Hunter, 2004). UK’s Internet users seemed to agree too (Koumartzis, 2008): the majority of the participants of a 2010 UK Survey preferred the implementation of an open IRS, to no IRS or a silent IRS. Furthermore, all the improvements suggested by these respondents were focusing on making CleanFeed a more open IRS.

So, how do silent IRSs really function? Unfortunately, almost none of these systems are well documented, except the UK’s CleanFeed (Clayton, 2005). Concerning the reasons behind the choice of a democratic country to develop a silent IRS, BT’s few statements can give us the answer: due to the fact that it targets only child pornography, it was designed this way in order to minimise the chance of being circumvented (Bright, 2004; Koumartzis & Veglis, 2011). The latter proved wrong, though, as even non-determined and amateur users can quite easily circumvent UK’s CleanFeed (Clayton, 2008). Furthermore, being silent means that it can be easily expanded to include additional online content categories (as past incidents indicate) apart from child pornography, without being noticed (Edwards, 2006 & 2010).

Is it possible, then, to develop and implement a Fair IRS that, on the one hand, would be accepted by the Internet users of each country, and on the other hand would be effective? In their effort to find an answer, the authors took in 2010 an international initiative to measure Internet users’ opinion in many countries around the world. They managed to complete six surveys in Greece, Germany, Russia, India, Kosovo, and Cyprus, and present valuable data and statistically analyse it to find trends and associations (Koumartzis & Veglis, 2015).

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