I've become increasingly concerned about all the intrusions and monitoring that goes on in our increasingly corporate and government controlled Internet.
I'm not so completely concerned that I'd unquestioningly condone things like Anonymous - or even give Wikileaks blanket approval in many instances.
But I think the battle for privacy, and possibly even legal checks and balances, is a battle already lost. Much like the first printing presses (and later radio broadcasting) there are now massive attempts to regulate the Internet far beyond what is necessary to make it safe for individuals. Because it is now deemed necessary, and far more
important, to protect corporate and political interests as well.
There used to be an old joke that said the United States government only offers constitutional protection for unfettered free speech if it can't be heard beyond the range of a man speaking in a very loud voice. Not much of a joke really, since shouting can get you arrested if you do it in public, or if your next door neighbour complains. And if you add any technology to the mix (a bullhorn, a recording, a radio or TV broadcast, a digital camera, an e-mail account, a weblink to a blog, etc.) such that your voice actually might get heard by enough people that it could matter, then out comes the legal droids to show how communicating your thoughts with anything other than your vocal-cords is not really speech
- but somehow...in some way...something else
And that "something else" is not
protected by constitutional guarantees because it is not "speech." QED.
Seems those already in power are rapidly showing just how open to the notion of general public "empowerment" they really are.
But some people tend not to accept as unalterable what's been handed them by a (mostly) benign government and their (sometimes) benevolent corporate backers. Enter those who propose alternative networks
to supplement or replace the Internet.
There's an interesting article on The Chronical of Higher Education's website that documents some of the efforts of what's been dubbed the "free-network movement." Well worth reading and thinking about. Link to full article here
with thanks to OSNews.com for the find.
Fear of Repression Spurs Scholars and Activists to Build Alternate Internets
College 2.0: Fear of Repression Spurs Scholars and Activists to Build Alternate Internets
By Jeffrey R. Young
Yana Paskova for The Chronicle
Eben Moglen, a law professor at Columbia U., is developing the Freedom Box, a personal server that makes data harder to intercept. "The Net we have is increasingly monitored, measured, and surveilled everywhere by everybody all the time," he says. "Our Net has been turned against us."
Computer networks proved their organizing power during the recent uprisings in the Middle East, in which Facebook pages amplified street protests that toppled dictators. But those same networks showed their weaknesses as well, such as when the Egyptian government walled off most of its citizens from the Internet in an attempt to silence protesters.
That has led scholars and activists increasingly to consider the Internet's wiring as a disputed political frontier.
For example, one weekend each month, a small group of computer programmers gathers at a residence here to build a homemade Internet—named Project Byzantium—that could go online if parts of the current global Internet becomes blocked by a repressive government.
Using an approach called a "mesh network," the system would set up an informal wireless network connecting users with other nearby computers, which in turn would pass along the signals. The mesh network could tie back into the Internet if one of the users found a way to plug into an unblocked route. The developers recently tested an early version of their software at George Washington University (though without the official involvement of campus officials).
The leader of the effort, who goes by the alias TheDoctor but who would not give his name, out of concern that his employer would object to the project, says he fears that some day repressive measures could be put into place in the United States.
So what do you think? Do you see something like a modern cousin of Fidonet
in your future?