Do We Need an Internet Freedom Movement?
Adam Ostrow is a new media entrepreneur, consultant, and commentator. As Editor in Chief at Mashable, Adam is responsible for the editorial management and direction of one of the most widely read blogs in the world, covering the latest technologies, trends, and individuals that are driving the current evolution of the Web.
Adam is a graduate of The University of Maryland, from which he holds a B.A. in Journalism and was awarded Most Outstanding Senior in the school’s prestigious Hinman CEOs program. Adam has been frequently quoted by mainstream media, including mentions in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Times of London, Agence France-Presse, The Globe and Mail, Forbes, BusinessWeek, Entrepreneur, Newsweek, AdAge, Variety, The Atlantic, U.S. News & World Report, BBC, NPR, ABC News, CNN, MSNBC, and FOX Business Channel.
The prevailing wisdom that “technology created by innovative companies will set us all free” is anything but reality says Rebecca MacKinnon, an Internet freedom activist that spoke at TED Global on Tuesday in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Opening her remarks by contrasting Apple’s famous “1984” ad, in which the technology giant asserts its role as an agent of empowerment, with the company’s controversial removals from the app store, MacKinnon went on to describe an Internet increasingly in need of a new system of checks and balances.
That need comes from the growing power that corporations wield on the Internet, and in turn, their ability to shape what we can and can’t do in our digital lives, MacKinnon said.
The problem often asserts itself most visibly abroad, for instance in China, where Internet companies are awarded “Self-Discipline Awards” for conforming to the nation’s censorship policies. And while that problem may be seen as a Great Firewall of China issue, she notes that it’s often western technology that enables the regime to enforce its restrictions.
She also points to post-revolution monitoring and restricted access to certain sites in Egypt and Tunisia. “Even in democratic society we don’t have good answers how to balance the need for security on one hand and the protection of free speech on the other in our digital networks,” she said.
In response, MacKinnon believes that the citizens of the Internet need to take a more active role in pressuring corporations and the government to preserve free speech. She said, “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 has a book on the subject entitled “Consent of the Networked: A Citizen’s Guide to the Worldwide Struggle For Internet Freedom” due out early next year.
- Do We Need an Internet Freedom Movement? (mashable.com)
- Bits: A Call to Take Back the Internet From Corporations (bits.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Let’s take back the internet! Rebecca MacKinnon on TED.com (ted.com)
- Rebecca MacKinnon at TED: Let’s Take Back the Internet! (jilliancyork.com)
- Highlights from TED Global 2011, The Stuff of Life: Day One (brainpickings.org)
- TEDGlobal 2011: Day One (designmind.frogdesign.com)