When Turkey’s dictator blocked Twitter(s twtr) and YouTube(s goog) earlier this year, many citizens quickly found other ways to access the sites, proving further support for the adage that “the net interprets censorship as damage, and routes around it.”

The saying, and the tools that make such rerouting possible, are a testament to the flexible technical protocols that make the internet so accessible to so many people. Yet the ability of Turkish citizens to see blocked websites is also a triumph for the internet’s political protocols, which time and again lead unaffiliated people to unite in an effort to overcome censorship.

These unofficial political protocols, which defy formal definition, encourage access and expression over walls and silence. Today, at a time when governments are redoubling their attempts to censor the internet — not just in Turkey but in Iran, China and Russia — it’s helpful to explore where the internet’s political protocols developed in the first place, and how…

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