Originally proposed as a
technological solution that would forestall official
censorship, content filtering has been shown to pose its
own signicant threats to free expression on the Internet.
Often characterized by their proponents as mere features
or tools, filtering and rating systems can also be viewed
as fundamental architectural changes that may, in fact,
facilitate the suppression of speech far more effectively
than national laws alone ever could.
Several critiques and studies have
been produced since filtering and rating systems were
first proposed as voluntary alternatives to government
regulation of Internet content. Partly as a result of the
writings contained in this collection, the headlong rush
toward the development and acceptance of filtering and
rating systems has slowed. These critical views must be
considered carefully if we are to preserve freedom of
expression in the online world.