We need to fight so the net can set us free
A new book, by an author with experience cross-cultures in the West and the East, argues that a global struggle for control of the internet is under way. At stake are no less than civil liberties, privacy and even the character of democracy in the 21st century, author Rebecca MacKinnon says.
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Many commentators have debated whether the internet is ultimately a force for freedom of expression and political liberation, or for alienation, and repression. It is time to stop arguing over whether the internet empowers individuals and societies, and address the more fundamental and urgent question of how technology should be structured and governed to support the rights and liberties of all the world’s Internet users.
Rebecca MacKinnon warns that a convergence of unchecked government actions and unaccountable company practices is threatening the future of democracy and human rights around the world. Consent of the Networked is a call to action: freedom in the Internet age depends on whether we defend our rights on digital platforms and networks in the same way that people fight for their rights and accountable governance in physical communities and nations. It is time to stop thinking of ourselves as passive “users” of technology and instead act like citizens of the Internet – as netizens – and take ownership and responsibility for our digital future.
The author, an American, is a fluent Chinese speaker and former CNN bureau chief in Beijing.
In an interview, she said that the book points out that:
"...we cannot assume that the internet will evolve automatically in a direction that is going to be compatible with democracy. It depends on how the technology is structured, governed, and used. Governments and corporations are working actively to shape the Internet to fit their own needs. The most insidious situations arise when both government and corporations combine their efforts to exercise power over the same people at the same time, in largely unconstrained and unaccountable ways. This is why I argue that if we the people do not wake up and fight for the protection of our own rights and interests on the Internet, we should not be surprised to wake up one day to find that they have been programmed, legislated, and sold away."
The Worldwide Struggle For Internet Freedom
by Rebecca MacKinnon
Jan 31, 2012
Published by Basic Books
Background on Rebecca MacKinnon: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebecca_MacKinnon