Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Revolution of the Internet?

Rebecca MacKinnonAccording to Rebecca MacKinnon, an internet freedom activist (yes, they actually exist) who recently spoke at TED Global in Edinburgh, Scotland, the thought that "technology created by innovative companies will set us all free" is completely bogus.

MacKinnon opened her speech by contrasting the famous "1984" ad by Apple where the company asserted its role as an agent of empowerment. With Apple's recent, and controversial, removals from the company's App Store, MacKinnon stated that the internet is increasingly in need of a new system of "checks and balances".

This "need" apparently comes from the increasing power big corporations have over the internet as well as their ability to direct and shape what a person can and cannot do with their own internet lives as a result of that "power".

This problem is less prevalent in the United States but does rear its ugly head in other countries abroad like China where internet providers are rewarded with "Self-Discipline Awards" for conforming to the censorship policies set forth by the government. While this problem may seem very vast and nearly insurmountable, MacKinnon noted that it is more often Western technology that allows the government to enforce restrictions like this.

MacKinnon also points to post-revolution monitoring as well as restricted access to certain websites in countries like Tunisia and Egypt. "Even in democratic society we don't have good answers for how to balance the need for security on one hand and the protection of free speech on the other in our digital networks," MacKinnon stated.

In response to this, MacKinnon believes that the people of the internet should take a more active role in pressuring the government as well as corporations in order to preserve our digital free speech. MacKinnon added, "Each of us has a vital role to play in building a world in which the government and technology serve the world's people and not the other way around."

MacKinnon is so passionate about this topic that she even has a book out entitled "Consent of the Networked: A Citizen's Guide to the Worldwide Struggle For Internet Freedom" which is due to be released early 2012. What do you think? Do you think the people of the internet need to "take up arms" so to speak and rebel against the governments and corporations to free ourselves in the digital world?

Source: Mashable - Do We Need an Internet Freedom Movement?

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1 comment:

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