(jonrussell / Flickr) Click here to see a gallery of 11 phrases that are banned on Weibo.
Who owns the Internet, and who has the right to control what content is available on it? Is it sovereign territory, or is it free from antiquated earthbound laws? These questions have engaged Internet activists and scholars for over a decade, although to the disappointment of technoutopians, it turns out that the Internet is very much capable of being regulated, and many governments -- even ones in the free Western world who champion free speech and democracy -- have been perfectly willing to do so. China’s “Great Firewall” and “Golden Shield,” a vast network of technical controls by which it regulates Internet content, is only the most obvious and extensive. In 2000, Bill Clinton compared censoring the Internet to nailing JellO to a wall. But ten years later, China appears to have built an effective harness -- self censorship by companies and netizens (Internet citizens) -- to go along with the world’s biggest nail gun: tens of thousands of state employed Internet censors, total government control of overseas Internet data connections, and next-generation monitoring hardware to keep that Jell-O from reaching the floor.