Governments who feel threatened are known to disconnect “their” digital networks from the rest of the world, attempting to limit communication by blocking domain names, by disabling telephone networks, and sometimes by trying to isolate an entire country from the Internet. Even though these censorship processes are far from transparent, previous research by Howard et al. 2011 has identified two major self-professed reasons why governments take such actions: (i) protecting political authority and (ii) preserving the public good. This article examines these reasons from the point of view of rights-based theories and utilitarianism to assess their nor-mative force. Though exceptions exist, it is concluded that neither rights-based theories nor utilitarianism in general supports the disconnecting of digital networks to achieve these aims. This conclusion gains extra force as it is supported by two normally opposing normative theories.
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