If the internet initially reduced the traditional advantages governments have had in controlling information, governments have dug deep to try to restore that advantage, given the value of information.

A significant advantage of the new information economy for governments, as for corporations, is that it can provide far more information about citizens than was ever available in analog form. Traditionally, Western societies have accepted a balance between security and civil rights. It was widely understood that security, whether national or economic or physical, could always be enhanced if citizens’ rights were eroded in favour of more state intrusion, but Western societies, to a greater or lesser degree, saw this as a poor trade-off in net terms.