Blog 4: 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.

The you need to enter your blog post by midnight 06/17/15

Link to article: Liberation Technology

Secondary Readings

Link 1: FinFisher Story

Link 2: Russian Example

2 thoughts on “Blog 4: Liberation Technology

    Chester Hojnicki said:
    June 17, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    In his article, Larry Diamond provides a very clear cut definition of liberation technology, and how it should be ideally used. Diamond states that a liberation technology is any form of information or communication technology that can enhance social, political, and economic freedom. In the case of the death of Sun Zhigang, the internet played a major role order in the circulation of information no the wrong doings of the government. As a result of a widespread call for justice due to increasing citizen involvement in the situation, the Chinese government closed over 800 C&R detention centers throughout the country. As Diamond discusses, opinions on the outcome of the event can ultimately be viewed from both an optimist as well as a pessimist point of view. Optimists view the use of liberation technology in this circumstance as a means to empower individuals, facilitate independent communication/mobilization and to strengthen emergent civil society. Pessimists on the other hand argue that this liberation technology has not changed anything, and that the CCP is still in control through the use of blatant digital censorship. Thus it is dress whether or not it is naive to think of the internet as unprecedented in its potential for political progress. Diamond believes that history has shown us the answer to such a question, and provides the example of the conception of the printing press to support his argument. He argues that the printing press was responsible for changing the way information was both circulated and digested, which in turn, lead to emergence of the modern democracy. However, it is important to understand that the printing press also was responsible for the creation of the centralized state, thus promoting the creation of state censorship. Although these new technologies, from a pessimistic standpoint have the ability to enhance democratic principles, it is important to understand the very realistic possibility for social control. It is because of this potential for invasion of rights and privacies, that we ask whether these new technological advancements are truly technologies of freedom, or technologies of control. One of the reasons I believe that many governments take part in forms of social control, such as internet content filtering, is because of the way in which state hierarchies view the internet and cyberspace. In the Liberation vs Control article we read, the authors felt that cyberspace is best conceptualized as a constantly evolving domain made up of physical infrastructure, and software along with constantly changing regulations and ideas. I believe that it is this constantly changing atmosphere, which cyberspace is both renowned and despised for, that instills feelings of uncertainty and insecurity amidst governing bodies. The idea of not being able to control, or have any say in regards to the actions of so many individuals on such a large scale is, in my mind, what troubles governments the most.

    Todd Moores said:
    June 17, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    In the article “Liberation Technology” the author, Larry Diamond, provides the definition of liberation technology as any form of information and communication technology that can expand political, social, and economics freedom. In his article, Diamond, tells the story of Sun Zhigang, a 27 year old male, who was brutally beaten to death while in custody of the Chinese police. Sun’s death received massive attention in the media and on the internet in China. After an investigation proved that Sun had been beaten to death while being held in custody, many Chinese citizens took to the internet in chat rooms and bulletin boards to voice there outrage. With more and more people expressing their anger on internet forums, the story of Sun’s death quickly became national news. In the of Sun Zhigang, the internet and its platforms gave citizens the opportunity to actively engage in a national call of justice. As a result, 12 people were found guilty of Sun’s death and the Chinese government decided to close down all of the more than 800 “Custody and Repatriation” detention centers. In the article, Diamond believes that the outcome that result from Sun’s death can be viewed in two very different point of views, optimistic and pessimistic. Those who take the optimistic point belief view the use of Liberation technology in these events as a means to empower individuals, facilitate independent communication and mobilization, and strengthen an emergent civil society. While on the other hand, the pessimists maintain that nothing in China has fundamentally changed and that the Chinese Communist Party remains strongly in control through their unparalleled system of digital censorship. Governments, such as the Chinese Communist Party, use digital censorship in order to show their power in forms of social control. Many countries preform content filtering practice in part of their negative view toward the internet and cyber space, and its users. There is a common misconception used by governments who practice digital censorship and that it that internet uses are “hackers”, who just set out to create anarchy and weaken the traditional political structure. I will agree that there is a small population of internet users that might intend for this. But the very large majority of cyber users are average people who just want technological freedom and not digital censorship from their government.

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