Blog 5: Internet Freedom

Watch the interview with Rebecca MacKinnon  and outline briefly what you find are the most important and relevant aspects of Internet Freedom

Your blog response should be posted by midnight 06/20/15

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2 thoughts on “Blog 5: Internet Freedom

    Chester Hojnicki said:
    June 19, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Rebecca Mackinnon begins by discussing the current state of internet freedom, and why there must be a drastic change in order move towards a free internet. She discusses the important of citizen and social media, and how it’s full democratic potential must be taken into account when restructuring unstable countries such as Egypt. Mackinnon believes that although a state may advertise and promote a free network, there is still a very real potential for government monitoring. Thus it is important to understand exactly who is controlling and running these networks. Therefore in order to ensure complete internet freedom from government intervention, we must look towards a new “magna carta” movement for the internet. By this she means that in order to ensure true internet freedom, we must find a way to politically ensure that our digital lives are not bearing consequence to our lives outside of the internet. With this context in mind, Mackinnon gives an analysis of state control over the internet in China and Russia, and how both countries provide examples of how certain actions on the internet can have major consequences. In China, the CCP has allowed for the adaption of the internet into everyday society, but with major state restriction such as “the great firewall of china”. By denying the majority of foreign internet access, China has been able to promote the use of domestic social media. The ISP’s providing internet access are held responsible by the government and conduct their own surveillance and monitoring schemes in order to maintain business. Although Chinese internet users are able to enjoy aspects of the internet through domestic social media, they are still monitored and are prohibited from any type of political or religious mobilization for change. Russia on the other hand, is more subtle in the way that it monitors internet usage, but instead of blatantly blocking information the government relies on it’s tight relations with ISP’s to track user movement. With these more extreme examples internet surveillance and monitoring in mind, one must then look at how western democratic governments seen in United States and Great Britain should participate in a free internet. Ultimately citizens of countries such as the United States seek for their government to balance the importance of civil liberties with proper internet governance. This has been an area of concern as governments, in attempting to solve the problems caused by the internet (hacking, fraud, etc.), have proposed solutions without taking civil liberties and digital rights into consideration.

    Todd Moores said:
    June 20, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    In this interview with Rebecca Mackinnon, a leading internet policy expert, she discusses the current state ongoing struggle for internet freedom. Having lived in America my entire life, a country where anyone with a laptop, cell phone, or even a library card can access and freely roam the internet however they desire. The issues surrounding internet freedom have been topics that I had not put any thought into prior to taking this class. Having spent the last week learning about the issue and how countries like China, an authoritarian regime, control and censor their citizens internet capabilities. Taking all that we have discussed this week in, I believe that some of the most important and relevant aspects of internet freedom involve social media. The creation of social media has been a great way for people to speak their mind, not matter if it is compliment or criticism. This is one of the great powers of social media, that anyone can commit acts of journalism. Mackinnon refers to this as “citizen media” and on these networking programs, like Facebook and Twitter, the more followers you have the more your comments will spread and gain power with each view. Another strength of social media is its ability to organize the masses, as seen in Egypt and Tunisia. In the cases of these two countries the internet played a pivotal role in bringing down authoritarian regimes, Mubrak in Egypt and Ben Ali in Tunisia, by organizing the public in street protest. Social media has the power to organize it users to unite around a common cause and eventually bring change. Through these online uprises that took place in Egypt and Tunisia, social media has ultimately shown its full democratic potentials. Mackinnon also discusses in detail China’s state controlled internet situation, where China is able to block many foreign website with their “Great Firewall of China”. Many foreign social media websites like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are block to Chinese users by their governments own doings. By doing this China has been very successful in promoting their own domestic social media sites. One excerpt from Mackinnon’s interview that I found interesting was when she said “China needs to control things sufficiently to keep the communist party from losing control, but they also need to be connected to the internet to be a global economic power”. I think this statement holds very true when looking into China’s domestic social media sites. China’s social media site have contracts with the government that require these sites to remove any anti-China posts from their site immediately and not following the contract guidelines with result in the site being pulled off the web.

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