Berin Szoka, Adam Marcus (eds.): The Next Digital Decade: Essays on the Future of the Internet (2010)

20 February 2012, dusan

This unique book brings together 26 thought leaders on Internet law, philosophy, policy and economics to consider, from a wide variety of perspectives, what the next digital decade might bring for the Internet. This book is essential reading for anyone gazing toward the digital future.

The book’s 31 essays address questions such as: Has the Internet been good for our culture? Is the Internet at risk from the drive to build more secure, but less “open” systems and devices? Is the Internet really so “exceptional?” Has it fundamentally changed economics? Who—and what ideas—will govern the Net in 2020? Should online intermediaries like access providers, hosting providers, search engines and social networks do more to “police” their networks, increase transparency, or operate “neutrally?” What future is there for privacy online? Can online free speech be regulated? Can it really unseat tyrants?

With contributions by Robert D. Atkinson, Stewart Baker, Ann Bartow, Yochai Benkler, Larry Downes, Josh Goldfoot, Eric Goldman, James Grimmelmann, H. Brian Holland, David R. Johnson, Andrew Keen, Hon. Alex Kozinski, Mark MacCarthy, Geoffrey Manne, Evgeny Morozov, Milton Mueller, John Palfrey, Frank Pasquale, Berin Szoka, Paul Szynol, Adam Thierer, Hal Varian, Christopher Wolf, Tim Wu, Michael Zimmer, Jonathan Zittrain, Ethan Zuckerman.

Publisher TechFreedom, Washington DC, 2010
ISBN 1435767861, 9781435767867
Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 Unported License
575 pages

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Rebecca MacKinnon: Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom (2012)

13 February 2012, dusan

Google has a history of censoring at the behest of Communist China. Research in Motion happily opens up the BlackBerry to such stalwarts of liberty as Saudi Arabia. Yahoo has betrayed the email accounts of dissidents to the PRC. Facebook’s obsession with personal transparency has revealed the identities of protestors to governments. For all the overheated rhetoric of liberty and cyber-utopia, it is clear that the corporations that rule cyberspace are making decisions that show little or no concern for their impact on political freedom. In Consent of the Networked, internet policy specialist Rebecca MacKinnon argues that it’s time for us to demand that our rights and freedoms are respected and protected before they’re sold, legislated, programmed, and engineered away. The challenge is that building accountability into the fabric of cyberspace demands radical thinking in a completely new dimension. The corporations that build and operate the technologies that create and shape our digital world are fundamentally different from the Chevrons, Nikes, and Nabiscos whose behavior and standards can be regulated quite effectively by laws, courts, and bureaucracies answerable to voters.The public revolt against the sovereigns of cyberspace will be useless if it focuses downstream at the point of law and regulation, long after the software code has already been written, shipped, and embedded itself into the lives of millions of people. The revolution must be focused upstream at the source of the problem. Political innovation—the negotiated relationship between people with power and people whose interests and rights are affected by that power—needs to center around the point of technological conception, experimentation, and early implementation.The purpose of technology—and of the corporations that make it—is to serve humanity, not the other way around. It’s time to wake up and act before the reversal becomes permanent.

Publisher Basic Books, 2012
ISBN 0465024424, 9780465024421
352 pages

review (Adam Thierer, Technology Liberation Front)
review (John Kampfner, The Guardian)

Let’s take back the Internet! (author’s TED talk)
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Afterword to the Paperback Edition (HTML, added on 2013-4-19)

Patrick Meier: Do “Liberation Technologies” Change the Balance of Power Between Repressive States and Civil Society? (2011)

5 December 2011, dusan

Do new information and communication technologies (ICTs) empower repressive regimes at the expense of civil society, or vice versa? For example, does access to the Internet and mobile phones alter the balance of power between repressive regimes and civil society? These questions are especially pertinent today given the role that ICTs played during this year’s uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and beyond. Indeed, as one Egyptian activist stated, “We use Facebook to schedule our protests, Twitter to coordinate and YouTube to tell the world.” But do these new ICTs—so called “liberation technologies”—really threaten repressive rule? The purpose of this dissertation is to use mixed-methods research to answer these questions.

The first half of this doctoral study comprises a large-N econometric analysis to test whether “liberation technologies” are a statistically significant predictor of anti-government protests in countries with repressive regimes. If using the Internet and mobile phones facilitates organization, mobilization and coordination, then one should expect a discernible link between an increase in access to ICTs and the frequency of protests—particularly in repressive states. The results of the quantitative analysis were combined with other selection criteria to identify two country case studies for further qualitative comparative analysis: Egypt and the Sudan. The second half of the dissertation assesses the impact of “liberation technologies” during the Egyptian Parliamentary Elections and Sudanese Presidential Elections of 2010. The analysis focused specifically on the use of Ushahidi—a platform often referred to as a “liberation technology.” Descriptive analysis, process tracing and semi-structured interviews were carried out for each case study.

Dissertation thesis
Faculty of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
Dissertation Committee: D. Drezner, L. Diamond, Clay Shirky, C. Gideon
286 pages