TED Conversations

edward long

Association of Old Crows


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Internet freedom: Safe or In Peril?

"They" are sniffing around the thing we call the Internet. Regulators, politicians, opportunists, and interested parties are officially coming together to focus on ideas for regulating the Internet. They are from the government and they are here to help us.


Closing Statement from edward long

Seven TEDsters joined me in cogitating on this issue. There was unanimity on the sub-question: " Is action to protect internet freedom indicated?"
Here are the highlights of the ideas and concerns expressed:
1) A tax-funded, sovereign, non-profit entity created to compile an accurate representation of public sentiment and susequently authorize any major changes to internet governance.
2) The internet cannot remain free of regulation lest personal freedoms be lost. The U.N. is a good choice to be the regulating agency. No tax should ever be levied against the internet. Censorship should be exercised to remove hate speeches and all promotion of intolerance or violence.
3) All freedoms are always in peril. The U.N. is not a good choice to serve as regulator. The issue is one of concern as evidenced by 1.2 million hits on search for "Internet Governance". The key to fair regulation is honest and accurate internet polls/elections.
4) "Big Brother" is a threat to internet freedom. Many other freedoms are also in peril. Younger people tend to be unaware of the potential for loss of freedom(s).
5) The internet is a virtual sovereign nation. To preserve internet freedom from a take-over by Big Brother It must be lightly regulated by an open-source body, not the U.N. We are on the cusp of a major shift in humanity.
6) Big Brother will, by nature, try to take control of the internet. Internet is like a genie out of the bottle, very difficult to control. Nations who choose to suppress internet freedom will perish.
7) Iinternet freedom is definitely in peril.

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    Jun 25 2012: The politicians will try everything they can to control the media. But this time they will fail. The Genie’s been let out of the bottle and he ain’t goin back. The parallels between the internet and the printing press are edifying. When the presses first started printing bibles in the vernacular, the Catholic church was concerned and tried to prohibit it. Moreover, they issued their list of banned books. All to no avail. Another interesting parallel was that early booksellers did a lively business in pornographic literature.

    Now, in fact the power elite did have a degree of success at controlling the print media. The Bush manipulations in the run-up to the Iraq war is an interesting case study. But this new medium will be even more resistant to control. Every censorship measure will be met with a new countermeasure. And the people’s desire to communicate without restraint will be achieved.

    Perhaps one of the greatest things the internet will teach is the value of free speech. Countries are going to be faced with a choice: 1) accept free speech and gain the benefits of the internet or 2) reject free speech and live in the dark ages. Governments which choose number 2 won’t last long.

    Don’t worry Ed. The end is far.
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      Jun 25 2012: I appreciate your optimism Tim, but I have lingering doubts about the ability of us commoners to stand against the government agencies who have a perfect record for managing to tax anything and everything that we use in mass. It would be the first time in history, I think, that the government stayed out of a potential revenue producing situation. So you say no peril for the Internet? I hope you are right.

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