Forum 3: Liberation Technology

In Liberation Technology, Larry Diamond attempts to conceptualize the use of the Internet as a benevolent tool for global social justice, provide some critical insights into the article by Larry Diamond engaging with the notion of liberation technology and focusing on both its potentials and limits. Two secondary readings are provided engaging with some key concerns on ‘Internet freedom and abuse by states’. You can bring in any example from global affairs or American politics or society to justify your arguments.

Forum will be open for comments from 2/28 – 03/04 (Midnight)

Link to article: Liberation Technology

Secondary Readings

Link 1: FinFisher Story

Link 2: Russian Example

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58 thoughts on “Forum 3: Liberation Technology

    Emilio Nilooban said:
    February 28, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    In American politics, the U.S. is fortunate to be given a wide range of liberties and freedoms (i.e. freedom of opinion and the press) that can now be conveyed in the form of information and communication technology (ICT) – a concept that Diamond refers to as liberation technology. In the article, optimists view liberation technology as a powerful tool that can enable “citizens to report news, expose wrongdoing, express opinions, mobilize protest, monitor elections, scrutinize government, deepen participation, and expand the horizons of freedom.” Of course, as stated in the article, access to mediums of liberation technology depends on the type of government one lives under. In the case of China, the government system is more authoritarian, restricting and limiting the freedom of its citizens to express discontent revolving certain political issues through it’s “Great Firewall” in internet filtering. In fact, China has a separate department regarding media censorship; a government tool that impedes on the release of news content from a vast range of media outlets. That said, with the vast amount of big data and digitized information that is out on the world-wide web, citizens are able to bypass state filtering and express discontent and grab hold of new information that the state has prohibited them from viewing. If this trend keeps on going, liberation technology may spark the emergence of movements and domestic unrest that can potentially challenge China’s political legitimacy.

      Michael LeFevre said:
      February 29, 2016 at 1:37 pm

      Emilio-

      Since China has the world’s largest population of Internet users (380 million people, 29% of the population) wouldn’t you think that they would have the most open and transparent laws regarding cyberspace? I found it fascinating that the CCP has the power to prevent users from accessing information that may dissuade people from their government. Connecting to sites such as Youtube, BlogSpot, and Facebook have become virtually impossible and blocked to users. The government is utilizing all of their resources to stop the public from accessing information, and has gone so far as to hire students to spy on their fellow classmates and peers.

      I believe without protests and riots like the April 22nd one at People’s University in Beijing, or Google withdrawing it’s online services in China in March 2010, that China may never escape this “black hole”. Evidently, millions of users are obstructed from accessing information everyday; information that could help lead to better policies, a more transparent government, and an economically prosperous China.

      This is a global problem, one that all nations and countries need to work together to solve this mystery behind “cyberspace”. Just like the evolution of driving laws and regulations, we need to set standards and rules for ICT’s and the Internet. First, we developed highways and roads, then we invented automobiles, then we constructed laws. Now that we have the “cyberspace”, we developed the phones, televisions, and computers…we just need the regulations.

      If the Chinese government is recruiting Chinese students to hack their fellow classmates and steal information, how will China ever be able to achieve freedom? Will it ever?

        Emilio Nilooban said:
        February 29, 2016 at 8:46 pm

        Considering how nascent the Internet and technology is currently, the thought of China ever achieving freedom and a regime change is quite dim. In my previous post, I definitely looked at China’s situation through an optimistic lens haven read that Chinese citizens were able to find loopholes in state censorship and breakthrough the “Great Firewall”. That said, you have brought up something that I haven’t considered before which was the state’s hiring of Chinese students to hack into their fellow classmates and steal information. If China is deploying these methods of digital espionage among its citizens, the government will eventually acknowledge these flaws in their censor/filter system and improve on it to prevent others from bypassing to achieve social stability.

        Cyberspace, being a space that is interdependent among countries, is definitely an international issue that must be dealt with. Certain guidelines and rules must be set on the international stage in order to deter a country from executing cyber attacks on another. That said, creating regulations (whether it would be for cyberspace or driving) will always vary for each country. The evolution of driving laws will vary for every country, thus cyberspace will likely have the same effect. In the case of the United States, it is evident that the government is at the “beginning stages” of creating regulations for cyberspace. The challenge for the U.S. in particular will be to create regulations which does not deprive the liberties and freedoms of the American people. It’s easy for China to create laws and regulations for cyberspace given the restricted freedoms its citizens possess in an authoritarian society.

        Will Kauppila said:
        March 2, 2016 at 6:37 pm

        Emilio,

        I very much agree with your sentiment that we should do all we can to support freedom in the Chinese internet community. It is too bad that in a country with such an omniscient, top-down, and authoritarian government structure, rarely are cases like Sun’s exposed. Instead, they choose to manipulate cyberspace in order subvert the basic rights of their citizens. Diamond acknowledges that while liberation technology can, and has done much to help protect these liberties, it is not enough in cases of a country like China, where the regime can is so powerful that it can develop its own methods of control over the internet, and harness it faster than its citizens. It seems crazy to me as a US citizen that the Chinese have 50,000 cyberpolice monitoring online activity 24 7, 365, and how far reaching their means of silencing free speech can go. That being said, I found the large-scale Malaysiakini blog example in Malaysia, as well as the symbol of the “grass mud horse” in China as a protest vehicle to be positive signs of progress for Asia going forward.

        Will Kauppila said:
        March 2, 2016 at 7:08 pm

        Michael,

        I think you are right that this a global problem we are dealing with. The Bahraini government’s deployment of the FinFinisher ‘hollow-processing’ program struck me as particularly problematic. It is not only an incredibly deceptive technology in and of itself, but the way that they used it against Moosa was horrible. That level of violation of an individual’s right to privacy and control over their online accounts by a government body should not be happening to anyone, anywhere. If Bahrain has this ability, it makes me terrified to think of the capabilities of the most powerful countries using it like the US, China, Russia, and India. Morgan Marquis-Boire and Bill Marczak seem very anxious over both the power and rapid spread of it to 25 countries at least. ICT’s are an amazing development and tool for giving power back to the citizens and away from the government (especially in the global south). It seems to me that many of the world’s most powerful countries already have access to sophisticated enough technologies such as FinFinisher, there seems to be no limit to the degree of specific, effective targeting they can carry out at will.

        Andrew Reiley said:
        March 2, 2016 at 9:15 pm

        Considering that so many of the Chinese people do not have access to Facebook, Youtube, and others that connect people as never before, I am wondering how Chinese people who leave the country and then come back with knowledge about these sites and accounts react to not being able to connect. Surely they have to find some loopholes. for example, I went to a high school in which 41 nations were represented by students, many of them being from China. I specifically remember video chatting with some of the Chinese students while they were home through Facebook. This was about 5-8 years ago, so things have probably changed, but how can they allow the use of a certain website and then decide, no our people cannot be connected to this or else they will get ideas, so we are going to block it? It just doesn’t seem right, especially for a nation that is full of so many smart people.
        Another interesting aspect of China being behind, or just blocking many people, in the internet game is how the Chinese, back in the 1800s, did not want to trade with Westerners. They considered it stupid and that they would not make a profit. Everything was anti western, and although the Opium wars were a very long time ago, in regards of Chinese history they were not, so they could still resent that, thus cutting off their people from having contact with the west, lest they get ideas.

        Tim Lasusa said:
        March 3, 2016 at 11:15 am

        In my opinion I feel as thought that the structure of the internet allows for opinions and voices to be heard but also allows for governments or people to take control and prevent such things . In the Toor and Brandom story about Bahrain, Moosa, the Bahraini protestor, was a victim to the governments control and was beaten for his voicing of speech when he lived in Bahrain, but more importantly was still a victim when they hacked his cell phone and computer while in the UK. This was all done from a “hired gun” so to speak of a internet hacker with an extremely sophisticated program that took over his life. I think stories like this one and the first anecdote in Diamond’s essay go to show that even when using technology to fight for rights and liberties, there is always some entity in control who dictates what happens. When people voice their opinions there is a cause and effect that usually ends in more restrictions or a complete take over of personal technology and the internet itself just as we see in China.

      Thomas Mathiasen said:
      March 4, 2016 at 2:28 pm

      As I mentioned in an earlier comment, we are so lucky to be able to have our freedom of the press and our right to free speech. While we may not always agree with one another, it is important to engage in that diolague to come to a common ground regarding a certain issue. China does not have that ability with the government censoring their information. Therefore, I think you make an interesting point, that if the trend continues to grow, liberation technology will spark the emergence of important social changes that will challenge the authoritarian politics of China.

    Michael LeFevre said:
    February 29, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    After reading Larry Diamond’s, Journal of Democracy, it is evident that the technological “world” we live in today is always evolving, and continues to cause stir among government officials and naysayers of the government. As Diamond points out, liberation technology is “any form of information and communication technology (ICT) that can expand political, social, and economic freedom”; in this case ICT’s can range from your smart phone to your TV. People now have the ability to access the Internet virtually anywhere; we have started to value Wi-Fi more than physical books. Users can not only access information anywhere, but with the power of ICT’s, users are able to reach a large audience, and spread their message, picture, or URL to anyone who shares the same “space”. This “space”, often referred, as “cyberspace” has become a very difficult but important topic in the United States and other countries. As people start posting more information and revealing more about themselves, the more information there is to the whole public.

    I found it very interesting to see the advancement of Malaysian government and public opinions in the Malaysiakini. The Malaysiakini is an online newspaper that has dominated other news sources in Malaysia, the only problem is that the government controls all the information posted. But as we’ve seen over the past five years, ICT’s have exploded and allowed the public to witness explosive growth and immense freedom.

    Securing our private information has become crucial to the public, and without government transparency, I am unsure if a clear-cut legislation will ever be accomplished. We now have multi-billion dollar companies such as, Twitter, Google, Facebook, Amazon and eBay, that have our personal information (credit card numbers, addresses, pictures) but how can we ensure were protected?

      Emilio Nilooban said:
      March 3, 2016 at 2:03 am

      I agree that ICT’s has evolved the ways in which we research and understand all sorts of information. The fact that we can search up articles and books on the internet through a database instead of physically going to a bookstore or library for research is a radical transformation that no one saw coming when the internet came to existence. As the internet evolved overtime, people expanded on its capabilities, enabling us to store even more knowledge within the mass amount of big data accumulated worldwide which brought rise to new opportunities and, at the same time, erected new issues that would determine the future of cyberspace as we know it. An issue that you brought towards the end of your post is whether we can put our trust in the hands of multi-billion dollar companies to protect our personal information and respect our rights to privacy. The answer to that issue is something that is unpredictable. There was a time when hackers managed to hack into the Playstation Network, stealing credit card information that players registered online for virtual purchases. With this occurring, we can only assume that anything is possible and that there will always be someone who can crack the code and solve the encryption that acts as the safe for everyone’s personal information within cyberspace.

    Andrew Reiley said:
    February 29, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    After reading Larry Diamond’s, Journal of Democracy on Liberation Technology, I have to say one thing before continuing. I find it amusing that the firewall in China is known as the Great Firewall. Besides that, the internet and the technology that connects the world is always changing. However, the changes are not always safe, in the respect that a quicker spread in speed of technology leads to people finding out about events instantly, and then posting or showing a response. For instance, when the telegraph was first invented, what took weeks now took seconds to convey and violence followed. The world may have been a better place before we knew what was going on at the same very instant half a world away.

    The change in speed and technology, on the other hand, has helped people out all over the world. People are able to express a voice and their opinions on topics that in some countries, they would not have had the chance and the outreach capabilities if it were not for the advancement of social media and the power that people can attain when they band together on the internet. I find it very interesting that the cultural shift has occurred all over the world and that everyone seems to be super connected, whether through Twitter, Facebook and even Youtube.

    It is also worth noting how China blocks most of their internet users access to particular browsers. Without Facebook, Google, and Youtube in China, the government is able to try to control what their users see, and if it is anti-China, they most likely wont be able to see it. There are other nations like that in the world, but as more and more people figure out how to get past firewalls, how to hack, and get more comfortable with technology in general, the world will become much more connected. There will still be violence, but instead of the knowledge of the violence being localized, it will forever be viewed by more of the world.

      Trent Rosenberg said:
      March 3, 2016 at 2:39 pm

      Andrew, this is more of a response to your question in Emilio’s post but I thought it would be better if I wrote it here instead. You asked “, I am wondering how Chinese people who leave the country and then come back with knowledge about these sites and accounts react to not being able to connect.” And while I don’t have that exact answer for you I can tell you that there are ways to get through the “great Firewall”. Specifically citizens can use whats called a VPN. I took this quote directly from a VPN website that explains how to use one, but essentially it, “It adds a new network interface which you are working with as if you are working with direct Internet connection. But the IP is different, and all traffic is encrypted.” I know from a student that went to China in the universities abroad program that he used this, and that they were relatively common. Therefore, even Chinese students who return to China still have the ability to use the internet without restrictions.

      If you want to do more research here is the link to the website I used. http://strongvpn.com/faq.html

      Dylan Kirby said:
      March 3, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      Andrew,

      I really enjoyed reading your response to the article. It is very fascinating to see that although China blocks or censors sites such as Facebook, Google, and Youtube the primary source of information for the Chinese is a search engine similar to google called Baidu. Baidu controls over 82% of the market and is a Chinese company – meaning that they are fully compliant with local laws and directed by the state government. It is sickening to think that a “censored” source such as Baidu is delivering a whopping share of internet users potentially wrong or misleading information where as Google only has 1% of the market so that further shows just how much information China censored from Google.

    Will Kauppila said:
    March 2, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    One of the most important takeaways for me was Diamond’s connection between Liberation technologies and Global government accountability. As we enter an era where powerful internet monitoring is increasingly prevalent, we have to have a way to counter this form of control, and continue to expose injustice and corruption when it occurs. Whether it is the upload of a camera phone’s video of human rights abuse to YouTube, or the instaneous ability of a blog to report a major news story that wouldn’t be otherwise able to travel so fast. I think we need to get behind global initiatives like the Omidyar Network that are making a real difference in advocating for government transparency.

    The Orange Revolution of Ukraine and Green Movement in Iran, respectively, both serve as prime of examples of citzens conciously utilizing Liberation technologies like the smart phone to efffectively mobilize a political uprising/demonstration. Even though they may seem simple, SMS text messages are an effective way of disseminating important information because they can “mushroom” so quickly. This is an amazing and beneficial tool many of us now have at our disposals, because within seconds, hundreds of thousands of people are able to communicate about the specific location of an important event or natural disaster for example. As Diamond alludes to, they are even beginning to crack chinks in the armor of a completely closed authoritarian dictatorship in North Korea.

    At the same time, with 36+ states currently filtering their ‘netizens’ internet access, there is no doubt about the potential power of government suppression in this new age. Even in democracies like ours, I think it is fair to say that the lines are very much still being drawn, and our civil liberties are not protected the same way on the web that they are in person/reality. I think it is particularly interesting that Diamond insists we must stand behind Western technology companies in his conclusion at the same time as we discuss the consequences of the FBI’s current battle with Apple.

      Sam McGowan said:
      March 3, 2016 at 6:16 pm

      I also agree with what you said about the fact that 36 plus states exist out there with the power to suppress people’s access to the internet. I think in the era that we live in now, and the extent/rate to which technology is progressing at, its almost inevitable that people living in these states will soon possess at least some ways to gain access to information they might not have otherwise had. I think there is a huge potential for grass root organizations to form in these countries once people become aware of the huge injustices and corruption that are occurring in these places. With that being said, in today’s digital age, I think these grass root organizations in the future will surely be utilizing “liberation technologies” that have the capability to infiltrate state protected systems. It will be interesting to see when something like this plays out over the next decade or so, especially since technology has been advancing so fast since the emergence of the internet.

      rfbenn12 said:
      March 3, 2016 at 7:00 pm

      Will, this issue of global government accountability also struck out to me while reading the first article. As Diamond points out, several authoritarian states including China, Belarus, and Iran have acquired and shared information and communication technology (ICT) that’s allowed them to filter and control the internet while targeting and punishing people who speak out. From a global governance perspective, what has the international community done to regulate and prevent the spread of suppressive technical capabilities and what more can they do?

      Tim Lasusa said:
      March 4, 2016 at 10:45 am

      I agree with Will in that In that the most important take away is the relationship between liberation technologies and government accountability. I feel as thought as new liberation technology get created and developed, the more and more I feel as though governments will try and control what gets shared and created. Even in democratic societies like ours I believe governments are now being forced to monitor and control what gets said in order to protect national interests. The reason for this being that as new technology gets developed more and more information is being shared, some of which is against the best interest of these democratic states and therefore these liberal states are now being forced to become more authoritative in their controlling of the internet.

    Tim Lasusa said:
    March 3, 2016 at 10:58 am

    My reaction to the readings makes me a little skeptical of the idea of liberation technology. In my mind whenever someone uses technology and the internet to voice their opinion and create cause for change, there is an effect that usually undermines that work in different ways. Just as Diamond describes in the first section of his essay, when Chinese citizens took to the internet to voice their opinions about Sun’s death it did cause China to investigate their own command and make changes to their regulations just as the citizens had hoped for, however it also led to to the tightening and more authoritarian ruling of the internet by the government. Chinese citizens now have one of the most filtered and censored internet spheres in the world preventing uprisings like the previous on from happening. So in a space like China when one tries to use the internet as a way of creating freedoms it will often have an effect that will take away others and create more restrictions as the people in power will look to hold onto their control.

      casega12 said:
      March 3, 2016 at 2:17 pm

      Tim, I agree with your point about liberation technology. It is unfortunate that Sun’s death was used as a precedent by the government to further censorship but the fact they paid attention to the people’s uprising in the first place is equally important. In such an authoritarian government like Chinas liberation technology certainly has its limits but it is interesting to think about how instances like these would be handled differently in other countries.

      Dylan Kirby said:
      March 3, 2016 at 3:47 pm

      Tim, I really liked reading your response and it is quite sickening to think that citizens of countries that censors the cyber world are not given the privilege to use the tool of liberation technology. Just as Charlie was surprised that China actually paid attention to the outcry of Sun’s death I am as well. It is sad though that a country uses such an incident to further increase censorship over the technology. I believe that liberation technology is a theory of idealists because in the United States we are able to so freely voice our opinions about the government without worrying of any repercussions whereas in countries such as China citizens face losing their jobs over any form of political expression.

      rfbenn12 said:
      March 3, 2016 at 7:16 pm

      Tim, I was also skeptical of Diamond’s concept of liberation technology after the article. Despite the initial traction of the ‘weiquan’ movement after Sun’s death, this example Diamond uses only really highlighted the limitations of liberation technology for me. I agree with Dylan’s claim regarding liberation technology being an idea grounded in idealism, but information and communication technology (ICT) more generally can also be interpreted in a realist way involving the terms of control and power. Utilizing liberation technology in a controlling state such as China or Russia that view ICT in this realist way is extremely more difficult than in open society under a democratic government.

      Thomas Mathiasen said:
      March 4, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      I think your skepticism is a valid concern, Tim. I think it is always important to look at an issue and think of the consequences of a person’s actions. I don’t think that Chinese people would have thought their internet would have become more limited when they first took to the internet after Sun’s death, but in a government like China’s, they may have to be careful the next time they voice their opinions. At the end of the day, however, they were brave and courageous to have their opinions be known, and that is something worth our praise.

    Jonathan Bucknall said:
    March 3, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    I have always known to be cautious when using the internet and smart phones, in this case iPhones, but after looking at the readings, the interview with Tim Cook and the guest speaker this week has made me realized that I have not been as cautious as I should. However, it is extremely interesting when looking at the interview with Tim Cook because the interviewer kept asking Tim if he has trouble sleeping at night because there could be information on the terrorist’s phone about other people involved or other possible attacks. I find that this is a very tough question to answer if I was Tim because if he phrases his answer or says the wrong thing the public could absolutely loose their mind, but in my opinion I found that he did a great job at answering the question. He said, to summarize, that if Apple could create a software to get into just the terrorist’s phone they would do it in the blink of an eye but that is not the case because if they did develop the software the FBI would be able to get into millions of peoples phones. Which has extremely sensitive and private information about the owners of the phone that people would not want strangers to see.

      Michael LeFevre said:
      March 3, 2016 at 2:41 pm

      Jonathan-

      I too have been very cautious of taking necessary precautions to the security of my information but after Josh Stearns discussion, I find it extremely alarming that the government has deployed such software that enables them to collect and store our data. I think the government has over-stepped their boundaries when it comes to regarding the national security as a threat in the form of my Snapchat or Instagram post. The American citizens have always been weary of their government, and I believe Edward Snowden’s revelations have only further backed the truth. I was wondering, in which cases do you believe the government should be allowed to collect/track/store our data, and in which instances do you believe it constitutes our rights as American citizens. To further that point, if the government is allowed to record our data and history, how will different governments (international) react to this new phenomenon, and more importantly, how will their citizens?

    Jonathan Bucknall said:
    March 3, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    I thought that the Diamond article about Liberation Technology was extremely interesting, especially with the story that was at the beginning of the article. I find it amazing that it took place in 2003 because the internet was nothing like it is today and the fact that reporters and the internet caused a lot of people to come together and basically force the government to shut down more than eight hundred detention centers. it is important to remember that this all took place in China! a place where the government does not deal with issues like this lightly . So It I find it interesting to look at how technology and the internet gives the people a voice that they previously did not have against the government, and also how it can be used to get the upper hand on the government, especially one like China’s. Diamond defines liberation technology as “any form of information and communication technology (ICT) that can expand political, social, and economic freedom”. So looking at this story in China that took place in 2003 and liberation technology today is so much more advanced with solely on the fact that how the technology we have today is much more advanced and different than it was back then.

      casega12 said:
      March 3, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      Jonathan,
      Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t you visit China at one point during middle school? If so, you must have had some sort of online experience while you were there. Tell us about when and what you were doing there, it would be interesting to hear what your impressions of censorship and internet regulations were during your time in China

        Jonathan Bucknall said:
        March 3, 2016 at 2:41 pm

        Charles,
        That is correct I visited China on a school trip when I was younger. However, we did all the tourist things such as visiting the great wall and seeing the Terracotta warriors which was truly an amazing experience, but there was one part of the trip that didn’t seem right. We visited a silk factory and on the tour the guide said that they produce all the silk right their in this tiny factory however, it was well known that behind closed doors they were using child labor. I cannot speak to much about censorship and the internet regulation because i truly do not remember much since it was a long time ago since i was there. If you ever want to talk more about my trip there just let me know!

        Dylan Kirby said:
        March 3, 2016 at 3:56 pm

        Jonathan,
        As did I find it interesting how technology and the internet did actually give the citizens of an authoritative government temporary power to resolve such problem. As with Charlie, it would be fascinating to hear more about your trip to China and how you were personally effected by the censorship. I recently watched a Vice documentary about North Korea and how for a select few that visit the country are paraded around on a guided tour that “censors” the reality of the conditions inside of North Korea by having massive hotels, fake stores, and other oddities. But more importantly i learned that journalists in North Korea have a bigger duty of defending the political party and supporting the countries dark ideologies.

      Cory Latour said:
      March 3, 2016 at 8:49 pm

      Jonathan, Dylan, and Charles,

      I find all of your points about China interesting and agreeable. One point I wish we could talk more about is Alibaba’s presence in China. It is one of the biggest technology companies in the world, and one would have to think that they are in cahoots with the authoritarian CCP. However, the company is is a worldwide mainstay that is also accepted by the Western community. What are all of your thoughts on Alibaba? Do you think they hand over user data to the government? I recently read an article that the founder of the company bought a $23 million property in the Adirondack State Park. Can you believe that such a relevant and important company is actually so close to us here in Canton?

        Patrick Sullivan said:
        March 4, 2016 at 10:16 pm

        Cory very intriguing point you bring up here about Alibaba and their investment into land in a foreign country. In various cities around the world it is of normal practice to purchase real estate and develop it in hopes of charging a premium the lands use. In London, many oil sheiks or countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabi own much land in and around the city as the UK government advertises these purchases to many countries around the world. Yet to purchase land in such an uninhabited section of our great north country is truly mystifying. I would like to question what is the purpose of their investment?

    casega12 said:
    March 3, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    Diamond takes a strong stance against the potential of a public sphere in China and I cannot disagree. The amount of filtering and censorship done by the government would never allow online communities to thrive especially if they were sharing anti government beliefs. What I found interesting about this section was that Google has withdrawn from China because of the absurd censorship while youtube, facebook, and blogspot exist under a watchful eye. Not too long ago we were talking about internet governance and the fact that private companies and institutions have so much power over the rest of the internet. China takes control of how people can use the internet but what if these major websites took control of how China can use them? We have seen that google refuses to exist under such strict censorship what if other websites followed suit. I’m not sure if this is realistic but it is an interesting way to think about the ambiguous ‘internet governance’ happening all over the world.

    Michael LeFevre said:
    March 3, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    After reading the article, A Spy in the Machine, I realized just how devious some governments are. After Moosa Abd-Ali Ali had already been the victim of rape and assault, the Bahrain government continued to pursue his controversial comments and hijack his information. When governments create these spy-ware softwares that have the capability of hacking individual’s personal information is where the line between security and oppression is crossed. It seems that no matter where you are the world, you’re either being recorded, video taped, or tracked. Countries are starting to ally together and create such systems that are virtually capable of collecting any amount of information at a given time. These systems violate our rights and have drawn the attention of many humanitarian groups. Without the continued support, and persistence of people such as Moosa, Snowden and Jaffar, I would be hesitant to say that these are actually protecting the nation, and in the nations best interest. When people start getting tortured and killed for their beliefs and protests, is when we need to take a collective stance and stand up for our privacy.

      Sam McGowan said:
      March 3, 2016 at 6:27 pm

      Mike, I found your argument to be interesting and thought provoking. I too agree that its “devious” how some governments are actually working together to infiltrate peoples’ devices and find ways to undermine their efforts in political activism. The example with the UK and the UK based company called FinFisher and how this company sold its systems to Bahrain is quite interesting in my eyes. I think its interesting how there is a huge demand for private corporations to sell their services and products to state governments. My question is whether or not the private sector is better capable at developing such sophisticated hacking systems. With this in mind, I remember the lecture in class the other day where we watched a video about how the American government is actually actively promoting investment into innovative technologies coming from the private sector. I wonder how much this is happening in other countries like England. In the case of FinFisher, it seems as if there services are a violation of personal freedoms and I find it alarming that the UK can actively support such a firm and advocate for its services.

        Patrick Sullivan said:
        March 4, 2016 at 10:11 pm

        Sam I also followed you rethinking here in the wake of Michaels original post. Previously I was ignorant to the incredibly high demand of technological monitoring technology and how big of a role it plays in not only our government but also those across the world. hearing Edward Snowden’s TED talk really put into perspective what so many countries are doing now with the various innovations in technology and its impact on governments around the world. I too believe that the private sector is behind in this demand and may greatly benefit from exposure into this realm of business. On the other hand, companies like Raytheon hold incredible valuable contracts with government (specifically the US government) that enable them to be the sole provider of military equipment and technology. So based on the secrecy of the government in these issues I would bet that the public is unaware of the level of involvement the government has with the private sector.

    Dylan Kirby said:
    March 3, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    Before reading Larry Diamond’s Journal of Democracy on Liberation Technology, I never fully understood the extent of authoritative control that some countries have in terms of “cyber censorship”. Diamond uses the term “liberation technology” to describe how the internet is a powerful tool that citizens use to report news, expose wrongdoings, express opinions, and scrutinize governments. However, this term is truly a double edged sword because in countries such as the United States internet users are afforded the ability to express political feelings/opinions and peruse the internet without the fear of censorship, whereas in China The Great Firewall of China controls and prevents the rise of an independent public sphere that would plague the Communist Part of China’s monopoly on power.

    An interesting point that I found during my reading was when Diamond spoke about the printing press and the telegraph. Although the printing press revolutionized the accumulation and distribution of information, which in turn enabled the Renaissance it also prompted the movement to a centralized “censored” state. Furthermore, when the telegraph was first invented and the world started to shrink, it also brought the “bloodiest century in human history”. In relation to last week’s class and the talks on Edward Snowden I see a similarity between the access of more transparent information leading to even more political conflict just as the telegraph brought the bloodiest century in history.

    Another point that I found interesting was when Google decided to protest China’s censorship and withdraw service in the country due to the state censoring the search results. I want to arise a question to the forum about Google’s decision. Since sites like YouTube and Twitter help create new possibilities for exposing and challenging abuses of power, I wonder if Google’s decision to withdrawal from the country was warranted because of how much of a valuable tool it is – and in relation to the Sun Zhigang case because I am sure Google was the primary tool for searching about this incident back in 2003.

      Cory Latour said:
      March 3, 2016 at 8:44 pm

      Hello Dylan,

      I am in agreement with your point that Google’s withdrawal from China ultimately hurt its people’s ability to have online freedom in the country. I understand Google’s decision from a company’s point of view, but I find it interesting that they withdrew because of the state’s overreaching control. Do you think they realized that they were one of the more liberal presences in the country? How do you think the meeting went down when they ultimately made this decision?

    Sam McGowan said:
    March 3, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    After reading the Diamond article, I now have a better perspective on the fact that cyber space is truly the 5th dimension created by humans. Now no longer are there four dimensions, with those four previous ones being air, land, sea, and space. As Diamond explains, “liberating technologies” have shown the power and immense communication capabilities of not only the general population, but also the state. Even while the internet has created new outlets for grass roots organizations and other frustrated people to voice their concerns over the government, many authoritarian states now possess the capabilities to sensor potentially detrimental messages that are coming from dissidents. Yet its clear that the internet and emergence of social media platforms with video posting capabilities are making it much easier for political activists to post videos and other posts about governmental abuses and social injustices. As Diamond points out, this is happening in Malaysia with the online newspaper website called Malaysiakini. I think its very cool that the establishment of this website is making the possibility for a “democratic breakthrough” much more likely in Malaysia. In addition, I thought it was very interesting to read about the story of Bahrain and how they have employed FinFisher to find and target people who post detrimental messages, even when they are not in Bahrain. Its alarming in some ways to learn that the US and the UK allies itself with human rights abusing countries such as Bahrain. Its even more alarming to find out that UK based companies such as FinFisher are allowed to sell their systems to countries such as Bahrain, with the goal of destroying internet freedoms.

    In China, the immense powers of the state are shown in how much the government takes up efforts to censor the internet. The party state even has “50,000 internet police” and a so called “Great FireWall” to prevent damaging messages about the government to be posted. I think this fact alone solidifies the ways in which the emergence of the internet and other “liberation technologies” are truly becoming the 5th dimension created by humans. This new dimension clearly has the power to change public opinion for the better, but how its regulated will be the deciding factor in whether more democracy comes about as a result.

    I also found the story about VK and its founder, Pavel Durov, to be very interesting. In retrospect, I can’t help but wonder whether or not he was forced to sell all of his remaining shares in his company by the Kremlin. But as he said, he’s very happy that his career and life in Russia are over for good. It seems like his mission was to establish more of a discussion about the injustices going on in Russia by the government. Clearly, this is not what happened, and VK is now not a place where political activism can take place. I found it somewhat controversial that a company such as Facebook can be enticed to shut down a site such as VK. With that being said, this is interesting because of the interaction between private and state sectors, and it shows the limits of the state when it comes to the capabilities they possess. Nonetheless, this example shows how powerful the state can be when it comes to destroying internet freedoms.

    Cory Latour said:
    March 3, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    Larry Diamond’s article is an invaluable tool when analyzing how the Internet and its subsidiaries mix in to the established culture and system of an authoritative regime. The opening example of Sun Zhigang’s death is a paradigm to one of the underlying messages of Diamond’s article: the internet provides a new outlet for the oppressed and the censored to unite together and start a dialogue. This idea, which completely contradicts the state’s goal of control, manifests itself in current authoritative regimes. China is one example Diamond introduces and retraces, but Malaysia is another similar country that is forced to deal with this new public outlet. Diamond notes how the new newspaper in Malaysia has not made the currently any less authoritative since its inception, but he highlights its importance saying how the country is advancing closer to a democratic overhaul.

    As most of us know, technology is the future, and one can either get on board with the idea, or get run over by it. Authoritative states are learning this lesson, as Diamond points out how states are finding it harder to maintain control because of new outlets for information. One could argue that Google’s withdrawal of services in China actually aided the Chinese government, as it had more control over the other search engines. Despite China’s ability to control its citizens, other nations find the opposite. Whether it be the use of YouTube in Venezuela or the employment of mass text messaging in Africa, the old status quo used by authoritative states becomes harder to maintain.

    Diamond concludes that it is seemingly apparent that nothing is going to be able to hinder or stop these new digital mediums. Even the most oppressive regimes find it difficult to completely block off these online channels, as many never-before-heard voices begin to talk at once. It is the responsibility of the people listening to these voices to decipher which ones are the most true and right. Diamond encourages for greater social responsibility as new mediums open up, as it is seemingly impossible to control who can and cannot speak in this new digitized world. The article provides an enticing panorama of the wide-open internet within the tight confines of an authoritative regime. For this reason, Diamond’s article is an integral tool into the understanding of how the less-developed world (aside from China) advances into the future.

      Henry Preston said:
      March 4, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      Absolutely, new voices are being heard, and on a much bigger scale. International listeners can learn about issues occurring in provinces and towns that would have otherwise gone unnoticed, perhaps intentionally. This new system has created another check on the power of governments. No longer can governments expect to act in total secrecy. No doubt, the most secretive information will likely remain guarded, but fringe information will spread more rapidly, and those with the ability and want can access and disseminate further information that allows people to paint larger pictures of situations.

        Thomas Mathiasen said:
        March 4, 2016 at 2:20 pm

        I think as we mention new voices on a bigger scale, it is important not to get drawn to the loudest voice. Oftentimes, the internet can create a situation in which we become polarized and forget that we are not all so different from one another. While it is amazing that we the people can provide an effective check on our government authority, it is important to remember to challenge that authority with authority and not be swayed by the loudest voices, which can often be incorrect.

    Cory Latour said:
    March 3, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    I found the article about Russia written by Casey Johnston to be complementary to Diamond’s article. Russia operates as an authoritative state under a democratic mask, as Vladimir Putin has been in control for about 16 years, although his title changed during the time. Pavel Durov’s story of suffering state intimidation is essential to form an understanding of how social media works in a state like Russia. Durov ultimately paid the prices, as he lost his company and fled Russia, but his story demonstrates the ability of new channels rising in these states. It took the Russian state years and public spot light in order to thwart Durov’s company. Recently a new Facebook group arose to challenge the Putin regime, which the government had to block again. The point of these examples is to show how it is becoming increasingly easier for new channels to emerge. What do you guys think about Russia as it advances? Will it ever become a true democracy? If so, do you think it will be because of these new channels or something else?

    rfbenn12 said:
    March 3, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    Diamond’s article really illuminated to me the drawbacks and benefits of information and communication technology (ICT). As many people have mentioned, one of the biggest and most obvious drawbacks of ICT is when it’s weaponized by authoritarian governments against their citizens. Diamond uses the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Sun’s case to emphasize the negative aspects of ICT when it’s used to suppress citizens’ voices and inherent rights. On the other hand, the benefits of ICT when used as liberation technology can have tremendously large and far-reaching effects. Although our readings didn’t really mention Egypt’s Arab Spring, I think it represents a new model for revolutions in the future. Egyptian citizens effectively used digital ICT, Youtube and social media in particular, to spread awareness of the Mubarak government’s human rights abuses to other countries and the international community. When the government closed the internet and citizens’ ability to communicate outside of the county the people rallied to Tahrir Square in a unified protest that ended up winning over the Egyptian National Army. The strategy of using liberation technology subsequently rippled into the Middle East where it was adopted by other uprisings such as the one in Syria. One of the major differences between the situations in China and Egypt is how well the people are unified, which greatly affects how effectively liberation technology can be used.

      Henry Preston said:
      March 4, 2016 at 12:39 pm

      That’s a great point, the use of social media during Egypt’s Arab Spring really exemplifies the potential for ICT to be utilized in affecting change, literally through a revolution. I would argue that the great difference between Egypt and China in this situation is that Egypt did not understand the potential harm that could come about from social media, while China is very aware of it.

    Trent Rosenberg said:
    March 3, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    Liberation technology seems to have a very high potential. One of the more interesting features I noticed from the Larry Diamond article was the notion that liberation technology could be used for monitoring. I was curious about the claim that there are over 10,000 videos on youtube that deal with human rights abuses. I typed in “Human Rights Abuses” and I got over 318,000 videos. Now, the number of videos is extremely concerning( and there were videos about US violations) but what I find positive is that I have access to them and that they can be made public. Like the article said, the outrage around some of these videos has led to some of even the more authoritarian countries to acknowledge that there violations. If the technology can continue to expand (which it most likely will), then we may eventually be able to address human rights violations immediately, which may decrease the overall number of them.

    Another thing that the article talked about, but that it didn’t go very deep into was the idea that China’s youth are becoming smarter and smarter, when it comes to getting past the firewall. I previously posted something about this concept, but it struck me that because this article was from 2010, some of the methods I know of may not have been as popular or even around at that time. Essentially what its called is a VPN (I alluded to this in a comment earlier) but what it does is, “It adds a new network interface which you are working with as if you are working with direct Internet connection. But the IP is different, and all traffic is encrypted.” All you need is existing internet capabilities and it will work. It also functions different than a proxy in the sense that a proxy is more of a web filter, where as a VPN encrypts all of your traffic, replacing your ISP and routing ALL traffic through the VPN server, including all programs and applications. As I also mentioned before I was told by a current student who went to China that these systems actually work and are widely used. Its also very inexpensive. The website that I visited, was offering the service at 10 dollars if you payed monthly and 4.99 if you paid for 12 months in advance. Now I can’t say for certainty if this particular VPN is a good one, but the fact remains that it is available and easy to find.

    Overall, this liberation technology may be the future. The one aspect that concerns me, and one that the author also eluded too was the idea that with this many voices, it may be hard to determine who is actually knowledgeable and who is just voicing ridiculous claims.

      Thomas Mathiasen said:
      March 4, 2016 at 2:17 pm

      I think you make a very interesting observation regarding human rights violations, Trent. While some of these videos may be disturbing and even paint our government or nation in a less than flattering light, it is important that we know about these events occurring around the world. It makes me wonder, do people in China even know about events like these? The wonder of our country is that we have access to this information and can hold our leaders accountable, either through reelection or by protest. People in China do not have that ability, and it is tragic that they do not. Perhaps someday, as you mention, we may have the ability to address human rights violations immediately when they appear on the internet.

      Sam McGowan said:
      March 4, 2016 at 5:25 pm

      Hey Trent, I found your comment to be thought provoking indeed. I was also very intrigued with the fact that there is such a big “youth bulge” in these countries, and this clearly has an effect with “liberation technologies.” Arguably, the demographic best suited to handle technology and know what is going on when they use them, is youthful populations. In countries like China and Iran, there is a sizable portion of the total population who are less than the age of 30, which is the ideal age group for having the capabilities to use technology. When they become politically frustrated, its really no surprise that they voice their concerns over the government on the internet and youtube postings. I was pretty surprised about the stat you posted as well – over 318,000 videos on youtube show state sponsored injustices! crazy stuff.

    Emilio Nilooban said:
    March 4, 2016 at 1:52 am

    In reading one of the secondary readings, “A Spy in the Machine”, I was astonished to realize the great lengths a state is willing to take in order to deter individuals from voicing their opinions even after they sought refuge in another country. Moosa Abd-Ali Ali, an activist from Bahrain, left his birthplace after being assaulted and tortured by the authoritarian government he was governed by. The state aims to silence individuals, like Moose, who aim to injure the legitimacy of the government and the core principles it embodies. After leaving the country with his family to the UK, he became an “exiled activist” and cameraman for a news agency, exposing himself to liberation technologies via ICT’s (i.e. Twitter, FaceBook and YouTube) that enabled him to convey his concerns in regards to domestic affairs that is happening in Bahrain. Thinking that he would be safe in a democratic country like the UK, he thought that Bahraini government would stop monitoring his activities. Unfortunately, the Bahraini government has managed to track Moosa over the worldwide web and have attacked him through a different medium – the internet. The Bahraini government has managed to infiltrate Moosa’s hardware and personal data via spyware, enabling them to disrupt and take a jab in eradicating his activist operations. The fact that Bahrain is using spyware like FinFisher to hack into specific individuals to suppress anti-government activism, even though it’s being done while stationed in a different country, completely devalues what liberation technology has to offer and it certainly reflects badly on countries that would endorse such a technology (especially countries that are democratic). Bahrain’s strategy in implanting spyware to targeted citizens from different countries brings up tremendous international concerns that creates this urgency for a global legislation within cyberspace. It also pulls countries and/or companies into a cyber “arms-race”, meaning that every country or company will update its security algorithms to prevent additional software and programs from having access to personal information and in order to preserve the value of liberation technology.

      Jake Levin said:
      March 4, 2016 at 5:56 pm

      A major thing Diamond stressed in his article was about how while liberation technology allows us to report news, express our opinions, expose wrongdoing, and mobilize people for protests, it can restrict our political, social, and economic freedoms if such spyware technologies such as FinFisher fall into the wrong hands. However while reading about Moose Abd-Ali’s struggles, I couldn’t help but wonder about the potential benefits such complex spyware technologies might have, especially in the war on terrorism. Yes it can be used to suppress any form of political activism, but it can also be seen as an important tool for democratic governments in identifying potential terrorists and terrorist attacks. Being able to instantly access the digital messages and conversations of people plotting against a country could be the extra thing required to prevent a potentially catastrophic act of terror.

    Henry Preston said:
    March 4, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    Liberation technology offers citizens the chance to more readily peer through the mists of government secrets and agendas and spread this information to others. Diamond says that this “deepens participation” (70), something that results in the spread of knowledge and interest. This technology allows individuals to spread ideas instantly with thousands of others across the world, and to listen to the ideas of others and become more educated in the process about current events, trends, and issues.
    The upside potentials for liberation technology are limitless, as they promote freedom in key aspects of society. At the same time, there are limits to the usefulness of a system with extremely low barriers to entry. For example, is is more difficult to know the reliability of an online source that is anonymous. Twitter and other social media groups have resorted to marking recognized accounts of public figures with blue check marks to show others that it is the real person. Another limit to this form of technology is the ability of States to regulate internet content, which is perhaps best portrayed in China.
    In authoritarian states, control of the internet through censorship is a powerful tool used to limit the spread of ideas that are deemed inappropriate by the state. Chinese censors remove online posts rapidly that are deemed harmful to the state, and also follow up with physical arrests and intimidation. Although the posts are removed, they are online for a short time, and in this time they are visible, and messages are propagated across everyone who views that site. these people then spread their own messages, which again can be removed, but are still seen for a short time. As such, the Chinese system is not perfect at preventing liberation technology from affecting change, but it does so much more than the US government does.
    The potentials for liberation technology will only truly remain so long as governments do not become most proficient entities shaping and editing cyberspace.

    Thomas Mathiasen said:
    March 4, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    The idea of “liberation technology” is a very interesting one. With new changes and advancements to the ways in which we receive our news, in particular the internet, it has changed the ways that we as a citizen can influence the news cycle and particularly influence our leaders. The example that Diamond uses of China, shows the threat to that notion that we may take for granted in the United States. China’s efforts to censor and limit the information that the Chinese people may get, shows a true disregard for the appreciation of that idea. Now, China has not always been known for its forward thinking mindset, especially when it comes to the information that is available to its people, but censoring the internet creates a bigger threat than censoring a newspaper. The internet has the capability to connect people from completely different parts of the world, limiting our ability to connect as a global world. While no press should be censored, the internet allows, for example, a person in New York to connect with someone in China. Should that connection be broken or censored, it violates the true conditions of a globalized world and does not allow for the free trade of information and ideas.

      Trent Rosenberg said:
      March 4, 2016 at 3:12 pm

      Tom

      I like how you brought attention to the idea that censoring the internet in China doesn’t only hurt Chinese citizens but also blocks people from the possibility of connecting with China, which hurts the rest of the world. I think the question now becomes, how do the Chinese citizens feel about this? Diamond obviously points to the fact that some (mostly the younger generation) in China are beginning to try to find ways around the firewall, but I think its fair to assume most of the population just accepts the firewall as a fact. I would love to know why that is. I obviously don’t expect you to have those kind of answers as I’m not sure anyone really does, but, its just something that came to my mind.

        Jake Levin said:
        March 4, 2016 at 6:09 pm

        As mentioned in Diamond’s article, the younger Chinese generations have become very creative in expressing their disdain for the Communist Party, with numerous tactics being utilized to circumvent the digital censorship so prevalent throughout Chinese cyberspace. Furthermore, with over 300 million internet users there is no way the government is able to monitor everything they would perceive as threatening their image due to the sheer amount of networking and communication that goes on in China every day. As a result I feel like most youth with access to internet are aware of at least some wrongdoings committed by the Communist party. If the government didn’t see the internet as a viable way for regular Chinese people to question their methods then they wouldn’t be preemptively closing down forums and blogs before major political events. There is still access to social media through Twitter so its not like they aren’t able to hear the opinions of other people. The population accepts the firewall as something that limits their expression of ideas, but it definitely hasn’t limited political activism to the point where everyone is blindly loyal to the Chinese government.

      Tim Lasusa said:
      March 4, 2016 at 10:59 pm

      Tom, I think you bring up some good points. I think it will be very interesting to see where China continues to go in the future. As technology advances, for the government to continue their censoring of the Internet they may have to go to more extreme measures as it becomes easier and easier for people to share their opinions. I’m sure we could see an expansion of hackers and virtual takeovers as we saw in Bahrain, which would make thing harder for people to find outlets for their speech. We could also see an even heavier continuation in censoring of websites and technology just have they done so in the past.

    Jake Levin said:
    March 4, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    One thing that really stood out to me from the Diamond article was the prominent role text messaging has had in holding authoritarian governments accountable for their human rights violations. So much of our online activity today has the ability to be monitored and limited to what a certain government wants us to see, so people in corrupt countries utilizing the extensive capabilities of phone networks rather than relying on the internet gives them the ability to express opinions, spread information, and mobilize people for protests without as much fear of retaliation from the government. The use of SMS text messaging to organize what tech guru Howard Rheingold calls “smart mobs” was instrumental in holding the government of the Philippines accountable for the unfair 2001 elections. Another effective component of SMS text messaging in combatting authoritative governments is its ability to transmit information across vast areas of land in little time. The FinFisher story tells us how the guy being monitored overseas by the Bahrain government was receiving information from contacts in Bahrain that were also activists and distributing it on a global scale by sharing it in various manners on the internet. Due to the web restrictions countries like China have on what type of news can be published, knowledge of human rights violations wouldn’t go beyond the country it occurred in as it would be taken down by the authoritarian government before it reached a global audience. This is why the simpleness of sending a text message has so much utility as it is harder for the government to monitor and it transmits information in the most effective manner.

      Trent Rosenberg said:
      March 4, 2016 at 9:28 pm

      Jake I think you bring up a really good point about the usage of text messaging. Text messaging in general has really taken off. In fact when I was applying to colleges 3 years ago, one of the schools I had on my list had an option to be texted if you got in rather than the traditional method of sending a letter. I think the “smart Mobs” is definitely an interesting concept, however, I think there are limits. Yes these mobs can come together quickly and be relatively organized through a group message, but the danger is that anyone can have a voice. People from anywhere could send a message at anytime and it might not always have the correct information. You also have to be careful that people aren’t trying to change the mob into something else or that the message they are trying to get across isn’t changing. So I think the main thing is you have to be careful and know where the information is coming from.

    Jake Levin said:
    March 4, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    Diamond ends his article with the statement, “It is not technology, but people,
    organizations, and governments that will determine who prevails” in the struggle for electronic freedom. More than three-dozen states filter the Internet or completely deny their citizens access. To preserve this limitation of information, they are continuing to pursue the acquisition of advanced circumvention and surveillance technologies. Liberal democracies should feel obligated to restrict the access of such products to dictatorships who would use it to violate the human rights of their citizens. These dictatorships have the ability to cooperate by sharing such technologies with each other, which can have extremely negative implications on this struggle for internet freedom. It won’t matter if the people who live under dictatorships develop more encrypted forms of communication if the government is already tracking their every move through spyware technologies like FinFisher. I also think Western leaders need to engage in more diplomacy concerning the rights of activists and bloggers that are wrongly imprisoned by their country for expressing dissent against their government. People can’t be afraid to want to utilize liberation technologies to better their society.

    Patrick Sullivan said:
    March 4, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    I found the double edged sword of liberation technology to be a pressing theme in Larry David’s writings. This refers back to the idea that technology and any innovations on the technology frontier are not bias to any side. Technology is in itself a indifferent tool to its user, therefore it may be used for the “good” or “bad” for a society. History delves into this issue and time and time again proves this ideal to be true. The creation of the printing press allowed for societies to further progress themselves through the enlightening, Renaissance, and Protestant Reformation. Yet it also allowed for those who controlled these sources of media to censor the printings and therefore what the nation or state’s citizens were allowed to read and digest. A more recent example of this is TV, Radio, and Music, where nations like North Korea, or the People’s Republic of China are in unquestionable control of these outlets of information distribution. But the question that must be asked is, whether or not these nations can stay at the forefront of technological innovation at the same rate as its people can. In the US cyber politics is an emerging avenue for the US citizens to express themselves and a facet of governing that the US is unaccustomed to. We are now doing our best to keep up with it, yet Larry David’s writings on the prison beatings and the resulting prosecutions of the guards is a sign that these totalitarian governments are indeed behind currently. I believe these liberation technologies will help the individual gain a greater sense of their freedom within their relative countries.

    Patrick Sullivan said:
    March 4, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    The FinFisher story was, I thought, one of the best reads of the class so far. Moosa Abd-Ali Ali is truly and inspiring activist. His determination throughout the entire article to lead his antigovernment activism group against a government who censors its people to such an extreme extent that he was physically, emotionally, and mentally harmed is heroic in itself. Having lived in London for five months last year I was able to experience and see that Moosa Abd-Ali Ali is like many refugees or immigrants seeking to find protection and a new life. Muslims have been immigrating to the UK, and most notably London, since the British Navy began hiring them to run the engines of the steamships. This was low skill low paying job that most british naval officers did not want to perform, so they outsourced these jobs to surrounding Muslim countries they came in contact with. Through these immigrants, large and very focused communities were built in and around London to the point where you would not know what country you were in if dropped off there. To think that Moosa Abd-Ali Ali was being spied on that entire time by Bahrain government officials makes you think just how many are being monitored unbeknownst to them currently. Furthermore, ISIS’s recruiting from London muslim communities makes me even think that the British government must be keeping a close eye on these groupings of people as well.

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