It surprises me to find that a system that was once created by the U.S. government in conjunction with educational institutions has now become #1 on American’s Most Wanted List. With recent events unfolding—such as Anonymous, SOPA/PIPA, Wikileaks, etc.—it’s apparent that the uses of the internet go well beyond a vast inteCredit: S Walkerllectual library.
The internet is no longer just an information repository. The internet has morphed into a myriad of things including:
- a social meeting place
- a form of entertainment
- a vassal for social movement
- a medium for transferring culture, feelings, thoughts across vast amounts of space and boundaries
None of the above by itself can be deemed a crime. However, when you combine several of these together, who is to say what the outcome will entail. For example, we can see that when people needed to organize in Cairo, social media became a powerful tool for social movement. Enough so, that the results were to overthrow a government. Again, I might ask, who can say if this is a crime in it of itself?
Surely, western culture would be inclined to say that democracy and the people were right for their actions. Yet, strangely enough, the same government who supported such protests has proposed to govern the internet with an iron fist in its own country. Yes, the guise is that they want to protect against copyright infringement and they want / need to hold someone accountable. However, if you read between the lines, you see that their propositions give them the ability to seize and squelch what people may say or do that is unfavorable to their government.
Another proposition put forth in recent suggested legislation would hold websites like the one you are reading this article upon accountable for any hyperlink that goes to an unsavory place (criminal behavior to be determined). From a social community where people share ideas and comment on them – yes comments have hyperlinks – the impact would be devastating. It’s not just about what you write and where you visit but also WHO visits YOU and YOUR website. How do you control your visitors? Do you want to control them?
Of course, the reaction may be to move all successful websites off American shores to stay free of condemnation and possible litigation. This would put the owness on internet providers to block those criminals from entering virtual U.S.A. soil. (poor as the economy may become for shunning our successful entrepreneurs and other websites who fear repercussion). [Flashback to our pilgrimage to the New World to escape persecution.]
Didn’t the world look toward China when Google decided to challenge the government’s authority to censor their internet? Or did we find a model by which we can create a new way of governing?
Yes, that must be it! The Internet is the Biggest Criminal in History. It has offered a means to spread information—such as Wikipedia; it has offered havens for people to connect such as Facebook; it has created a network of money making businesses—such as Amazon; and it has changed the way we live in our world.