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Not by Technical Means Alone: The Multidisciplinary Challenge of Studying Information Controls

Crete-Nishihata, Masashi, Deibert, Ronald J. and Senft, Adam,"Not by Technical Means Alone: The Multidisciplinary Challenge of Studying Information Controls," IEEE Internet Computing, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 34-41, May-June 2013

14 Pages Posted: 16 May 2013 Last revised: 21 May 2013

Masashi Crete-Nishihata

University of Toronto - Munk School of Global Affairs

Ronald J. Deibert

University of Toronto - Munk Centre for International Studies

Adam Senft

University of Toronto - Munk School of Global Affairs

Date Written: May 1, 2013

Abstract

The study of information controls is a multidisciplinary challenge. Technical measurements are essential to such a study, but they do not provide insight into why regimes enact controls or what those controls’ social and political effects might be. Investigating these questions requires that researchers pay attention to ideas, values, and power relations. Interpreting technical data using contextual knowledge and social science methods can lead to greater insights into information controls than either technical or social science approaches alone. The OpenNet Initiative has been developing a mixed-methods approach to the study of information controls since 2003. This article presents our approach through a series of case studies and concludes with a discussion of methodological challenges and recommendations for the field moving forward.

Keywords: Internet filtering, Censorship, Multidisciplinary

Suggested Citation

Crete-Nishihata, Masashi and Deibert, Ronald J. and Senft, Adam, Not by Technical Means Alone: The Multidisciplinary Challenge of Studying Information Controls (May 1, 2013). Crete-Nishihata, Masashi, Deibert, Ronald J. and Senft, Adam,"Not by Technical Means Alone: The Multidisciplinary Challenge of Studying Information Controls," IEEE Internet Computing, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 34-41, May-June 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2265644

Masashi Crete-Nishihata (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Munk School of Global Affairs ( email )

Toronto, Ontario
Canada

Ronald J. Deibert

University of Toronto - Munk Centre for International Studies ( email )

Department of Statistical Sciences
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S 3G8
Canada

Adam Senft

University of Toronto - Munk School of Global Affairs ( email )

Toronto, Ontario
Canada

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