7.4 Curbing the Web: control
7.4.1 The weakest link
The key insight for anyone interested in regulating or controlling the Web is that anyone wishing to use the internet has to go through an internet service provider (ISP). This is an organisation, usually a company, that operates servers which have a permanent broadband connection to the Net and that arranges internet access for its customers/subscribers. Up to now, ISPs have traditionally also been the organisations that provided Web-hosting services, i.e. that enabled customers to publish websites. These sites are held on the ISP's servers because most users' PCs have not had the persistent connections and fixed internet addresses required to serve Web pages.
So ISPs form a critical link in the chain between would-be Web publishers and their audiences. It follows, therefore, that if one seeks to control what people do on or with the Web, the logical tactic is to seek to control of or influence ISPs. And this is exactly what has been happening since 1997. Here I will examine how this has been accomplished by governments and corporations.