The Cycles of Global Telecommunications Censorship & Surveillance

Jonathon W. Penney

Abstract


Internet censorship and surveillance is on the rise globally and cyber-warfare increasing in scope and intensity. To help understand these new threats commentators have grasped at historical analogies often with little regard for historical complexity or international perspective. Unfortunately, helpful new works on telecommunications history have focused primarily on U.S. history with little focus on international developments. There is thus a need for further internationally oriented investigation of telecommunications technologies, and their history. This essay attempts to help fill that void, drawing on case studies wherein global telecommunications technologies have been disrupted or censored — telegram censorship and surveillance, high frequency radio jamming, and direct broadcast satellite blocking. The case studies suggest remarkable regulatory patterns or cycles with insights for current censorship and privacy threats and challenges.

Keywords


internet censorship; privacy; surveillance; telecommunications; international law; global telecommunications; telecommunications history; NSA; surveillance; encryption; communications law; international policy

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