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Internet censorship is the control or suppression of what can be accessed, published, or viewed on the Internet enacted by regulators, or on their own initiative.Individuals and organizations may engage in self-censorship for moral, religious, or business reasons, to conform to societal norms, due to intimidation, or out of fear of legal or other consequences.The extent of Internet censorship varies on a country-to-country basis.While most democratic countries have moderate Internet censorship, other countries go as far as to limit the access of information such as news and suppress discussion among citizens.Internet censorship also occurs in response to or in anticipation of events such as elections, protests, and riots.An example is the increased censorship due to the events of the Arab Spring.Other areas of censorship include copyrights, defamation, harassment, and obscene material.Support for and opposition to Internet censorship also varies.
In the same survey 83% agreed that "access to the Internet should be considered a basic human right" and 86% agreed that "freedom of expression should be guaranteed on the Internet".
According to Global Web Index, over 400 million people use virtual private networks to circumvent censorship or for increased level of privacy.
Many of the challenges associated with Internet censorship are similar to those for offline censorship of more traditional media such as newspapers, magazines, books, music, radio, television, and film.
One difference is that national borders are more permeable online: residents of a country that bans certain information can find it on websites hosted outside the country.
Thus censors must work to prevent access to information even though they lack physical or legal control over the websites themselves.