The Four Phases

I found the Palfrey article, Four Phases of Internet Regulation, very interesting. It opened my eyes to a lot of different periods of time and information I did not already know; especially regarding regulation of the internet over the past thirteen or so years. What I’d like to do with this blog is explain each phase and what their definitions demonstrate to me.

The first of Palfrey’s four phases was the Open Internet Period, which spanned from the beginning of the internet until around 2000. During this time, it was a total free-for-all of information online. Governments did not pay close attention to their people’s online activities; regulations regarding the internet were few and far between (Palfrey, 2).  Although most of the theories of the Open Internet Period have been done away with, some of them still remain. Palfrey describes one theory, saying, “Cross-cultural understanding could flourish as never before, now that these digital networks connect people from all around the world in new and important ways at very low cost” (Palfrey, 3). This is a theory that has stuck with us all the way till present day, and we are still trying to connect the world’s cultures, especially since the introduction of social media. Here is one of the many articles online reflecting social media’s globalization efforts:

The second of Palfrey’s four phases is Access Denied, which lasted from about 2000 to 2005. During this Era State’s first began to really start regulating the internet. Because this was the first try for governments at online regulation it was a very translucent task. There were very few people in the world (provided they have internet access) who were not aware of the regulation being conducted by states throughout the Middle East, North Africa, Asia, etc. This regulation was mostly scene through filter DNS, IP, and URL’s. In many states these limits are on sexually explicit material, or government information. In the United States this reminds me of what’s done for grades Kindergarten through twelfth in public schools. Filters there block sites seen as distractions for students. (Palfrey, 7)

Here is an informational video debating the use of filtering around the world:

The third phase is called Access Controlled, which spanned 2005 to 2010. Palfrey defines this phase as, “A period during which states have emphasized regulatory approaches that function not only like filters or blocks, but also as variable controls.” (Palfrey, 12). When I think of access controlled I think of a refined or even evolved version of Phase 2’s Access Denied. The regulatory system used during the Access Controlled period is more nuanced and can change over time as the internet’s landscape changes. Palfrey’s article explains that China was (and still is) one of the most dynamic states regarding filtering in this third phase. What this made me think of was the highly publicized regulation of footage from the Tiananmen Square Massacre (Palfrey 13).

Here is a video on how China Cracked down on Tiananmen Square footage as the country neared the anniversary of the event:

The fourth and final phase of internet regulation is Access Contested, which takes place from 2010 to present day and on. This phase is less of history and more of a prediction. It is thought during this fourth phase there will be more resistance from users against the regulatory controls we’ve come to know in phase two and three (Palfrey, 15). So far it seems pretty accurate to me and reminded me of the recent protests in the United States on bills like SOPA and HIPPAA.

Here is a video on one of the protests:

So those were the four phases of internet regulation and what world events they reminded me of. What world events do you associate with each phase of internet regulation?


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