Make no mistake – we are unwilling participants in a war – a war to “tame” the Internet. We’ve long been at war on the Internet in a sense and early on, there was no mistaking the enemy – cybercriminals. But, who would have considered that as the Internet evolved, the free thinking and freewheeling principles under which it was established, would come under attack?
While it’s true that the battle against the cybercriminal element continues unabated, the level of conflict – and its direction – has vaulted into a new dimension.
In a world driven mad by economic uncertainty, it’s hardly surprising that the principal players allied against Internet users, in the war to tame the Internet, are right-wing focused governments (who hold little regard for civil liberties and the right to freedom of expression) and, profit hungry corporations (who hold little regard for an individual’s right to privacy).
China, based on it’s aggressive control of Internet dissent, has long borne the burden of being classified as the black sheep of the Internet family but, the reality is somewhat less clear. The U.S. government in its paranoid motivation to address self created issues in it’s war on terror (spurning the Constitution in the process), may well be in the forefront in the drive to change the focus of the Internet as we know it.
In an article this past week on Slate – Evgeny Morozov (a visiting scholar at Stanford University, a fellow at the New America Foundation, and a contributing editor/blogger at Foreign Policy) wrote –
“While Hillary Clinton likes to give speeches in which she fashions herself the world’s greatest defender of “Internet freedom,” the harsh reality is that her own government is its greatest enemy. Given the never-ending flow of draconian copyright and cyber security laws coming from Washington, this fact is getting harder and harder to conceal from the global public”.
The U.S. is hardly alone in its contempt for the rights of the individual and it should be noted, that the long lineup of draconian governments has been enthusiastically joined by the governments of Canada, Australia, and the U.K.
Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google, in a recent statement made the point –
“Very powerful forces have lined up against the open Internet on all sides and around the world.. . . It’s scary.”
The stakes in the battle for control of cyberspace are enormous and, the outcome will affect you most directly. Taking the “path of least resistance” and allowing restrictive legislated Internet policies to wash over you, is just not on. Certainly not, if you wish to continue to use the Internet in the way in which it has evolved – free of unbridled government interference.
Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) recognized that “Knowledge is power” and, if a situation ever existed in which the reality of this truth can be played out – this is one which qualifies. To effectively fight back against unconstrained government interference – you will require the knowledge to do so.
With that in mind, I encourage you to spend some time reading an excellent series of articles published by the London based The Guardian newspaper. The series is wide ranging and includes coverage on issues from – governments attempts to control citizens, the rise of Facebook, Apple-style “walled gardens”’, the seemingly never ending attacks on privacy, the efforts to “tame” the web – and, much more.
Click on the appropriate links as follows:
The Guardian is taking stock of the new battlegrounds for the internet. From states stifling dissent to the new cyberwar front line, we look at the challenges facing the dream of an open internet.
Day two: the militarization of cyberspace
Internet attacks on sovereign targets are no longer a fear for the future, but a daily threat. We ask: will the next big war be fought online?
Day three: the new walled gardens
For many, the internet is now essentially Facebook. Others find much of their online experience is mediated by Apple or Amazon. Why are the walls going up around the web garden, and does it matter?
Intellectual property, from copyrights to patents, have been an internet battlefield from the start. We look at what Sopa, Pipa and Acta really mean, and explain how this battle is not over.
Day five: ‘civilizing’ the web
In the UK, the ancient law of defamation is increasingly looking obsolete in the Twitter era. Meanwhile, in France, President Sarkozy believes the state can tame the web.
Meet the activists and entrepreneurs who are working to keep the internet open.
Hundreds of websites know vast amounts about their users’ behaviour, personal lives and connections with each other. Find out who knows what about you, and what they use the information for.