Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Abstract for my paper on Net Neutrality, Internet Filtering, and Reproductive Health

In this uncertain time for the future of access and openness on the Internet, it is not surprising that controversial issues are often not permitted the same amount of openness as neutral ones. A contentious issue around the world, especially in relation to the US's attempt to pass health care reform, has been and continues to be the issue of abortion, including not only access to the service itself but also access to information regarding the service. This project is interested in exploring how companies and institutions that own rights to new media services such as medical databases, search engines, and text messaging services censor messages or information regarding controversial issues such as abortion that are the main concern of certain health care and reproductive health NGOs and information sharing societies and institutions.

In this paper, I would like to begin with an introduction stating the current temperature of the net neutrality debate; provide a brief background on both the issue of abortion and net neutrality at home and abroad; introduce and analyze some of the literature - both academic and popular - on net neutrality and Internet filtering; outline the inspiration for the methodological approach to this research; present three case studies on the issue (POPLINE medical database's omission of abortion as a search term at Johns Hopkins University; Verizon Wireless's refusal to participte in NARAL Pro-Choice's text messaging campaign; and Google AdWords' exclusion of ads offering abortion information where services are restrictive or illegal) and report on what happened and who was involved and briefly speculate as to why the censoring happened; and, finally, come to a conclusion as to the implications of the blocking or censoring, including an express statement on why a government, country or institution would want these types of communication technologies open instead of closed, or vice versa.

Now, don't nobody go stealin' my idea, ya hear!

Here's to all the interviews I have at Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice going well...

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