Since its inception in 1970s, Internet has been the focus of various technological and social controversies. Many of the events are just rumours started by an anonymous entity and then picked up by the crowd. However, certain events really have substance in then and caused major changes in how internet is governed and viewed by the masses.

This list of internet centric controversies highlights some of the present and past incidents/techniques that have rocked the world of internet and its users. It must be noted that these events were selected primarily for their impact on how internet works.

The Great Firewall of China

Censorship is the most hotly debated issue on the internet. Blogs, forum and entire social media sites are dedicated to the phenomenon of censorship. One country that stands out because of its heavily enforced censorship of information on the internet is China. All internet traffic to and from Chine passes through a massive firewall that blocks access to websites, blogs and even social media channels that the Chinese government consider dangerous or subversive.

Google Books Copyrights violation

Google Books was announced amongst much fanfare in 2004. The idea was innovative and rather simple. Maintaining an index of all the books ever published was an ambitious approach and Google received accolades from all quarters.

However, many publishers and universities soon realized that Google Books is making copyrighted material available for free. This breach of trust caused a massive legal storm for Google who faced a number of established names in publication industry. After a legal settlement in which Google started selling out of print editions of copyrighted books, the matter has abated for the moment.

Internet Service Providers throttle bandwidth consumption

ISPs have long been accused of caps on internet usage by the subscribers. The companies have always denied the allegation but volume and speed caps have started to appear in the end-user contract of the ISP. This is taken by the critics as an improvement in matters. However, the ISPs have maintained that there never was or ever will be an unofficial out-of-contract control on how much internet resources the subscribers consume.

The revolt at Digg

The famous revolt of the Digg users against the policies of the news sharing giant is one example of the power of the collective action. While the bone of discontent was indeed an illegal item of information, the event is considered a watershed case in the history of the Internet.

In 2007, some Digg users shared encryption keys for HD-DVD. This was a clear case of copyright infringement and Digg responded by doing the right thing; it removed the posts from its website.

The angry users responded by linking stories with the encryption keys to their posts and ‘Digg’ing up the stories to the front page of the website.  Eventually, Digg realized that doing what their users want them to do is more important than a legal threat of getting their website closed for IPR infringements.

Blogger Fired for Blogging

The case of Heather Armstrong was the first time a person was fired for blogging about their place of work. The event, which happened in 2002, started debates over privacy and rights of an individual in cyberspace and blogosphere.

The result was a close examination of the boundaries of the personal space and employer-employee relationship.