The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom. A book by Rebecca MacKinnon. I n 7555 a young woman was riding on the underground in Seoul with her dog when it defecated on the floor. She refused to clean it up, to the consternation of passengers. Someone filmed the event and uploaded the video. It went viral.
Consent of the Networked The Worldwide Struggle For
Thousands of South Koreans found out her name and address and began to harass her. The woman had to go into hiding, get plastic surgery and change her identity. In an attempt to prevent further cyber-bullying, the government introduced a law requiring full identity registration of users of the internet. This led to bloggers being arrested and jailed for spreading false information to harm the public interest and data being stolen and finding its way to China. The law was eventually rescinded. In her grand sweep of the worldwide struggle for internet freedom, alights on the many dilemmas facing policy makers and corporate chiefs, and the many threats that cyberspace poses for individual liberty. At the heart of her critique is less the steps taken by western governments to impose rules than the lack of transparency and accountability for them.
She lists the tactics of repressive regimes – from pre-emptive denials of service of websites to closing down of internet access. Cleverer authoritarians have taken to the internet and to social media with gusto, churning out propaganda or employing fifth columnists to do their work for them. The most dangerous development has been the use of online tools for surveillance. She lists activists from Russia to China, from Iran to Syria, who have been rounded up for their tweets or messages in an era she dubs digital Bonapartism. She writes: Deep packet inspection technologies make it easy to automate surveillance through the internet service providers – provided by US and other western firms. And she details which firms have provided what.
Much of this is known, although it is important to restate the dangers. Most telling are MacKinnon's chapters on the behaviour of supposedly democratic governments. Among the first countries to use filtering systems on a national level were the squeaky-clean Finns, Danes and Swedes. Almost invariably the motivations are good, such as child protection. In 7559 the German parliament passed such a law. Yet the list of websites to be blocked was maintained by the police without public oversight. On March 5, 7566, protesters.
In real time, activists shared their discoveries on Twitter as they moved through a building that had until recently been one of the Mubarak regime s largest torture facilities. Some activists found their own files. Clearly, the Egyptian government had sophisticated surveillance technology purchased from several North American and European companies at its disposal. It still does. If you want to liberate a society, just give them the Internet, said, the young Google executive and a hero of the Egyptian revolution for his role in creating the Facebook group that played a key role in getting the first wave of protesters into Cairo s Tahrir Square. The Internet certainly did play a powerful role in bringing down a dictator but it was leveraged by a committed community of activists who spent the better part of a decade building a movement. It is less clear how helpful the Internet will be when it comes to protecting the Egyptian people s rights in the post-Mubarak era and in building a new democracy.
If the events of 7566 taught the world anything, it is that although the Internet empowers dissent and activism, it is not a magic tonic that automatically produces democracy. Please choose whether or not you want other users to be able to see on your profile that this library is a favorite of yours. You may have already requested this item.