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Posted on Techdirt - 2 November 2013 @ 12:00pm

Harknell's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

from the the-importance-of-a-free-and-open-internet dept

Hi Everyone, my name is James Harknell and I, along with my wife Onezumi, run the lifestyle blog Onezumiverse.com, have a new haunted attraction web series, and run a yearly internet focused convention called Intervention (which Mike graciously allowed us to post about last year). As you can expect from all of what we do, we have a very vested interest in making sure that the internet remains free and open. I've been a long time reader of Techdirt because it is one of the best places to quickly find information and analysis on the current (and sadly extended future) issues that could take this freedom and openness from us all. With this in mind I do find it a bit strange to pick my "favorite" posts in regard to this (in much the same way as "liking" a Facebook post about something unfortunate), but I'll point out the posts this week that affected me the most.

One of the biggest threats to the internet comes from trying to apply legacy rules to what is a brand new medium and method for communication. There is an unfortunate ongoing attempt by different groups to bind and shackle online sites by misunderstanding the rules that are in play, such as what was reported on in regard to the new lawsuit against Yelp by a group of reviewers. The internet has enabled a very wide range of participation by people who previously would never have been able to have their voices heard. In some cases, this is through services that allow for aggregating content from a wide range of users, such as reviews. The important element is this is elective -- if you don't want to participate you don't have to. If you feel a benefit from freely adding your opinion online then that's a personal choice. To then retroactively define what work you freely did as "slavery" is absurd. While the service benefits from your actions, you also benefited by exposure, experience, or the joy of seeing your words appear online. You can always make your own service since it's obviously so easy (so why don't we see that too often?)

It's also always interesting to see how those in control often don't realize that they in fact don't control as much as they'd like, in this case the UK's David Cameron who is now threatening to clamp down on The Guardian over it's Snowden releases. Exactly how shutting down a "local paper" will somehow prevent worldwide release of information is obviously not clear, or why they would imagine that this could work. The scary thing is that this will obviously prompt them to consider even more repressive methods to attempt to control the information they don't want revealed, thus killing the internet itself.

At the same time it's also somewhat depressing to realize that the outrage being expressed by non-US countries is really just a cover for what is now a worldwide level of hypocrisy about spying and the desire for population control among our world governments.

To continue the problem -- if the NSA can spy on Google and Yahoo, what can regular citizens and online artists do to protect their privacy and work? It's alarming how quickly things seem to be degenerating into a totalitarian minded world view by our (and most other) governments. It's also enlightening to know that those in control literally don't seem to understand why this is a concern. Of course it's pretty obvious they hate when their own secrets get out, but their righteous belief in their own authority means they are Right (with a capital R), and we are all criminals or traitors just waiting to act. They can't even really bother to try to cover it up any more.

Some of the only glimmers of hope come from the fact that the big tech firms have suddenly realized that they need to be more active about the situation or they will be dumped by their users for betraying their trust.

It really feels like we are in a very precarious time--it's only through continued vigilance that we can stand up to these threats to our freedoms. I know I'll be following Techdirt and other sources to see what I can do to help continue the fight, I hope you will too.

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