First, in the online world, where most of us access the internet through a range of intermediaries, government censorship does not necessarily need to target the disfavoured speech; it need only target the intermediaries. Very few US companies would feel able to decline a request like that from the White House, and Google are to be commended for standing firm in those circumstances. Second, these intermediaries now have a great deal of practical power over online expression‚ not only can they be co-opted by government as agents of state censorship but they also have the capacity to act as censors in their own rights, as Google did in their unilateral action to block access in the Middle East.

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