Date of Degree

2-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor

Michael Mandiberg

Subject Categories

Digital Humanities

Keywords

Blockchain, Censorship, Bitcoin, Ethereum, China, Peking University

Abstract

The purpose of this research is to demonstrate how public blockchains offer a greater degree of censorship resistance over traditional web-based information broadcasting mechanisms, and a comparison of existing options. Public blockchains present a means to mitigate censorship from nation states through both a broadcasting and data storage mechanism. They are costly to attack and difficult to remove from the public due to their distributed and accessible nature. A recent incident in China proved the worth of public blockchains by forcing the distribution of a censored letter describing harassment by Peking University into an Ethereum transaction by an anonymous individual or party. The Chinese government censored the letter on popular centralized services such as WeChat, but was unable to censor it once posted to the Ethereum blockchain. Through the demonstration of the letter’s presence on Ethereum as well as the act of placing it on other public blockchains, this research highlights the importance of how public blockchains will continue to be a vessel for the protection of information well into the future.

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