Internet Blocking: When Well-intentioned Measures Go Too Far

3 September 2014 - A Workshop on Other in Istanbul, Turkey

Brief substantive summary of the workshop and presentation of the main issues that were raised during the discussions

The economic and public policy impacts of Internet access blocking by state actors have been well studied. Receiving less study to date are the economic and public policy impacts of Internet policing by third party non-state actors. The lack of a universal definition of “due process” or a common policy framework has led to occasional collateral damage that undermines the security and stability of the Internet.

The workshop explored the state of play in third-party Internet-access blocking such as Internet reputation systems, whether motivated by commerce, a sense of duty, or legal requirements. Examples of collateral damage were drawn from the public record, including the impact of Spamhaus’ block of significant Swedish IP space in early 2014, Microsoft’s court ordered takedown of, and the US Congress’ COICA/SOPA work in 2010/2011.

Although blocking can be essential to maintaining the usefulness of the Internet, such as filtering the abusive email that has accounted for over 90% of email connections at times, blocking can also go too far. The operative question is: “at what point does organized Internet access blocking do more harm than good to either the public interest or the organizer’s own agenda, due to foreseeable collateral damage, lack of care, or lack of investigatory or research resources to validate the action?”

The organizers WS107 developed an interactive dialogue that engaged expert audience members and panelists drawn from government, the technical community, civil society and independent internet agencies to reach a broad understanding and brief set of recommendations for those who might block or restrict Internet reachability between otherwise consenting parties, for those who might participate in such events by subscribing to an Internet reputation system, for those who might be targeted by such intentional blockages, and also for policy makers and shapers who need to know the limits and the risks of collective third party action in Cyberspace.

Conclusions drawn from the workshop and possible follow up actions

The workshop report (attached) includes summarized session notes related to the introductory comments, presentation of case studies, panel discussion, and dialogue with the audience. The report includes a set of twelve issues that were raised by the audience as well as a set of fifteen recommendations that should be included as part of best-practice policies when implementing Internet-access blocking .

The complete workshop report is also available at the following URL:

Workshop report - Google Drive , Workshop report -Dropbox

Estimation of the overall number of participants present at the workshop


Estimation of the overall number of women present at the workshop

about half of the participants were women

Extent to that the workshop discuss gender equality and/or women’s empowerment

it was not seen as related to the workshop’s theme and was not raised

A brief summary of the discussions in case that the workshop addressed issues related to gender equality and/or women’s empowerment

No information provided

Reported by

Robert Guerra