We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
80,258 News Articles

Internet versus the government

When countries try to stop the public accessing the web

The web makes it far easier to access information than ever before. However, this causes a problem for governments if the information in question consists of state secrets, copyrighted material or is simply something authorities don't want its citizens to see. We've rounded up five battles over information that governments have waged against tech companies over the past decade.

The web makes it far easier to access information than ever before. However, this causes a problem for governments if the information in question consists of state secrets, copyrighted material or is simply something authorities don't want their citizens to see.

This means governments often find themselves butting heads with tech companies who deliver internet services or content. The most recent flap is between BlackBerry maker Research in Motion(RIM) and two Middle Eastern countries that want to restrict what their citizens can do with their BlackBerry devices. We've rounded up five battles over information that governments have waged against tech companies over the past decade, from Sweden's battle against Pirate Bay to Saudi Arabia's RIM restrictions.

Sweden vs Pirate Bay

For years, the Pirate Bay had served as a hub for tracking torrents of copyrighted material distributed throughout the world. Swedish police raided 12 Pirate Bay locations in 2006, seizing 186 of the organiSation's servers for evidence. Swedish prosecutors first filed official charges against Pirate Bay at the start of 2008 and accused four people within the group of "promoting other people's infringement of copyright laws" by tracking torrents on their website. The site's operators were convicted in 2009 and were fined roughly $3.5m while being sentenced to a year in prison. An appeals trial for the four defendants is slated to start this September.

Winner: Sweden

Iran vs Twitter

After the results of the fraud-riddled Iranian presidential election rolled in last year, thousands of angry Iranians took to the streets to protest the continued reign of incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. One of their key weapons in keeping the outside world apprised of their activities was through Twitter, as Iranians used the micro-blogging site to provide real-time updates of rallies and actions. The Iranian government was none too keen on this, of course, and it began severely throttling users' access to the web in hopes of choking off the stream of information leaking out of the country. While the government didn't succeed in censoring Iranian tweets altogether, it did slow many of them down to a trickle and successfully undermined the protesters' ability to organise.

Winner: Iran

  1. It's not just the UAE authority kicking up a stink
  2. China vs Google
  3. United Arab Emirates vs Research in Motion

NEXT PAGE: China vs Google


IDG UK Sites

4G to get faster and cheaper with Freeview spectrum: We're in for a wait though

IDG UK Sites

Why you shouldn't buy your gadgets at launch: Wait and pick up a bargain

IDG UK Sites

Artist creates a geometric rave in a chapel for The House of St Barnabus

IDG UK Sites

Mac mini (Late 2014) 1.4 GHz review: Mac mini is sort of upgradable, but is it any good as it is?