Google said that in the first half of 2011, governments requested private data on about 25,440 people from the internet search and advertising company. Eleven thousand of those requests came from the U.S. government.

Soon, the practice of internet surveillance could become law in the U.S.: The Stop Online Piracy Act would allow the Attorney General to create a blacklist of sites that host pirated or copyright-infringing content. Internet providers would be legally required to block access to the sites.

Opponents of the law say it is an infringement of the first amendment, which protects free speech and assembly, and fundamentally alters the free nature of internet access.

The U.S. is not the only country introducing tighter controls on citizens’ internet use. China, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan this year proposed an internet "code of conduct" to the UN General Assembly. It would allow authorities to curb information that promotes “terrorism, secessionism, or extremism,” ideas that governments say threaten domestic and international security.

In China, journalists are now forbidden from reporting on information from the internet or a mobile device without first-hand verification and must provide two sources for all stories critical of the government. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are already banned in the country, and Chinese internet providers have agreed to tighten controls on content deemed anti- government.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation accuses U.S. and European technology companies of selling surveillance equipment and software to countries including Thailand, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, and China. The EFF says those nations have a record of human rights violations and unjust surveillance of its citizens.

Blogger Latoya Peterson joins the show to discuss the future of internet freedom, and Rebecca MacKinnon, author of the forthcoming book Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom will also be joining the conversation via Skype.

Should the internet be censored? Send us your thoughts and comments on Facebook or Twitter using hashtag #AJStream.

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