The Internet as a
Gradual slide of
the internet towards corporate and government control
Concern is about
control of content, rather than infrastructure (which probably needs
to be controlled to some extent).
Don't want the
internet to turn into TV. Allowing freedom of choice based on
individual preferences is important. Anti-censorship, software
freedom, cultural freedom – founding principles of the internet
should not be allowed to be captured by governments or corporations.
revolution, e.g. Egypt and the "Arab spring". Not entirely
grassroots – US government interests have funded opposition in
order to try overthrow governments, so that US corporations can go in
and make money. USA has a history of doing this – helps to provide
internet infrastructure to groups within oppressive regimes to help
them overthrown their government.
revolution – Tor, bitcoin and bittorrent. Anonymous communication,
alternative currency based on cryptography, free file sharing that
is difficult to track. Silk road – people buy and sell illegal
drugs using bitcoin so the buyers and sellers are anonymised.
Wikileaks – has revolutionised the nature of "whistleblowing"
and the concept of official secrets.
Examples of things
that people have created which have revolutionary potential. Created
for the purpose of existing outside control structures imposed by
governments and corporations. Used by people who want to be
anonymous – governments do not like this as there is a presumption
that people who want to be anonymous are likely to be doing
something illegal, evading taxes, selling banned goods etc.
government be able to turn these things off? What can we do to
ensure that human communication remains uncapturable, by either
government or corporate interests.
What is your
bottom line. How far will you have to be pushed before you take
action – top 3 activities that NZers use the internet for are
banking, product information and paying bills. Political activism is easier in general here, so there has been less of a tendency for dissidents to congregate by preference in online forums.
Mainly adopted by
people who have motivation for using them – bittorrent became so
popular due to the slowness of record labels to develop systems for
distributing digital content at a reasonable price, Tor is used
mainly by political activists in repressive regimes, but in western
nations is often used by hackers, drug dealers and child pornographers.
Bitcoin is used mainly by people who want to sell banned or
restricted goods without being identified. So while these are an
essential counterbalance to the increasing tendency towards control
of the internet by government and corporate interests, they also
attract negative publicity because of how difficult it is to provide
free and unmonitored exchange without also facilitating illegal
The internet is
not separate from the "real world", it is just a means of
communicating between people who all live in the real world. So the
responsibility of governments to protect people in everyday life
also extends to the internet, but a balance must be struck between
this obligation to protect people, and the creeping tendency to
restrict freedoms by protecting people from themselves for ideological reasons, when they
neither want nor need protecting.
The three key wars
of ideology – war on drugs, war on terror and war on (some kinds
of) pornography are all fought online to as great an extent
as in the "real world" – however in the online world
where there is free exchange of information, wars on ideology
struggle to sway public discussion. All three of these "wars"
are largely pushed by the religious right-wing elements in the USA,
who are threatened by the largely liberal left-wing bias that
pervades much of the internet – so the internet itself is seen as
a tool that is aiding "the enemy".
important for legitimacy, but this can be hard to balance with
anonymity – example of bitcoin where both the buyer and seller
have identity concealed by encryption, but the actual transfer of
funds is fully transparent, so if you know your own encryption key
you can always track where your money is going.
change is dangerous especially when there is no clear plans for what
happens once "the dust settles" as it were. A better
approach is often evolution, where a stepwise and progressive change
happens over time with extensive public consultation and feedback,
so dramatic revolutionary change and unintended consequences can be avoided.
Huge amount of
information available, but a general lack of information literacy,
people often lack insight into where the content they are reading
comes from, and hence what limitations there may be on its validity,
or what inherent bias may be present. Similar problem is the
tendency of people to seek out and read things that agree with their
pre-existing views and beliefs, so people tend to ignore evidence
that doesn't fit their world view and consequently always feel like
what they read online supports what they believe already.
is a good thing, between both individual people and between people
and governments. Conflicting principles between openness and
anonymity, the more that people can communicate in a way that
mirrors the way the internet works, while conversely bringing their
real world views and ideals onto the online world, the closer the
two mediums will come.