Social Media Censorship vs. State Responsibility for Human Rights Violations

Case Study of the Arab Spring Uprising in Egypt
  • Joanna KuleszaEmail author
Part of the Public Administration and Information Technology book series (PAIT, volume 13)


The chapter presents the contemporary international consensus on the limits of the right to free speech online. The author examines state-imposed online filtering in terms of its compliance with international law, especially with human rights treaties granting freedom of expression and access to information. The White House implemented “Internet Freedom” program, whose aim is to introduce software enabling the circumvention of local content control in “filtering countries”, is thus subject to thorough analysis. The analysis covers recent (2011) events in Egypt, where the world’s first successful attempt at shutting down the Internet within state borders was completed. Although enforced through legitimate state actions this first-ever Internet shutdown was circumvented with technology offered by U.S.-based Google. This technology and its use seemed to meet the goals of the “Internet Freedom” program, introduced by the White House a few months prior to the Egypt events. In the course of the argument, the author discusses international responsibility for the possible breach of their international obligations by both: Egypt and the U.S. She provides for the assessment of the legality of the actions of Egyptian authorities’ executing a nationwide ban on Internet that constitutes an infringement of freedom of expression, as well as the responsibility of the United States for their failure to halt a U.S. legal entity enabling users to circumvent Egyptian blocking.


Internet Free speech State responsibility International law Internet governance Sovereignty Proportionality Access to information Human rights Due diligence 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of International Law and International RelationsUniversity of LodzLodzPoland

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