Consent of the Networked

Consent of the Networked

The World-wide Struggle for Internet Freedom

Book - 2012
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Google has a history of censoring at the behest of Communist China. Research in Motion happily opens up the BlackBerry to such stalwarts of liberty as Saudi Arabia. Yahoo has betrayed the email accounts of dissidents to the PRC. Facebook's obsession with personal transparency has revealed the identities of protestors to governments. For all the overheated rhetoric of liberty and cyber-utopia, it is clear that the corporations that rule cyberspace are making decisions that show little or no concern for their impact on political freedom. In Consent of the Networked, internet policy specialist Rebecca MacKinnon argues that it's time for us to demand that our rights and freedoms are respected and protected before they're sold, legislated, programmed, and engineered away. The challenge is that building accountability into the fabric of cyberspace demands radical thinking in a completely new dimension. The corporations that build and operate the technologies that create and shape our digital world are fundamentally different from the Chevrons, Nikes, and Nabiscos whose behavior and standards can be regulated quite effectively by laws, courts, and bureaucracies answerable to voters.The public revolt against the sovereigns of cyberspace will be useless if it focuses downstream at the point of law and regulation, long after the software code has already been written, shipped, and embedded itself into the lives of millions of people. The revolution must be focused upstream at the source of the problem. Political innovation - the negotiated relationship between people with power and people whose interests and rights are affected by that power - needs to center around the point of technological conception, experimentation, and early implementation. The purpose of technology - and of the corporations that make it - is to serve humanity, not the other way around. It's time to wake up and act before the reversal becomes permanent. -- From publisher description.
Publisher: New York : Basic Books, c2012
ISBN: 9780465024421
0465024424
0465029299
9780465029297
Branch Call Number: 302.231 MACKINN
Characteristics: xxv, 294 p. ; 25 cm

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AnneDromeda Nov 20, 2012

Pah, you think, what could possibly be said on the topic of internet freedom that adds to the conversation? In the cultural imagination the internet is vast, ethereal, beyond the ken. It is so distributed among us, it seems beyond the sway of hegemonic corporate or political interests or even physical structure. Consequently, it's often thought of as the perfect social justice solution, when people think of the internet at all.<br />

In a short 20 years, the internet has managed to become so normal that we've actually ceased thinking of it, kind of like we stopped thinking of written text as a technology. But - just like the early days of the printing press - something new has been unleashed; and though it has become normal, it is not neutral. MacKinnon's *Consent of the Networked* illustrates this by taking into account the many ways the internet is tethered to governments, corporations and physical infrastructure. Using case studies focusing on nations as well as companies, MacKinnon illustrates for readers the very high-stakes power struggles that determine the degree of open and free operation for the internet.<br />

She is quick to point out that not all these affiliations are inherently bad news for free speech on the internet, and that many internet bigwigs actively promote its use as a public space - particularly social media companies. But though social media can be a great help to activists wishing to be heard, we'd all do well to remember we use these spaces by privilege, not by right. As MacKinnon reminds us, speech in these spaces is ruled by Terms of Service, not protected by constitutions or human rights.<br />

MacKinnon calls into question assumptions made by those in positions of power, and lays out eloquent arguments for why we must speak truth to these powers. And, while she is optimistic about the potential of the internet as a tool for free speech, she is realistic about the extent to which we can expect it to become a public space available to all. *Consent of the Networked* might be a bit of a dense read, but it also presents the most thoroughly researched and reasoned arguments I've yet read on the role of the internet within the public sphere. It's very highly recommended to anyone with an interest in the Arab Spring, net neutrality, media studies, or political science.

k
karensd
Jul 22, 2012

Consider this book a must read for anybody that is using the Internet in today's age. Rebecca MacKinnon doesn't excellent job of comprehensively discussing the issues that affect us all just by being users of the Internet and the social media websites that she mentions. It's important for us to be aware of what governments and corporations are doing with our activity and with our data. Be informed. Be aware. Make good decisions.

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AnneDromeda Nov 20, 2012

Pah, you think, what could possibly be said on the topic of internet freedom that adds to the conversation? In the cultural imagination the internet is vast, ethereal, beyond the ken. It is so distributed among us, it seems beyond the sway of hegemonic corporate or political interests or even physical structure. Consequently, it's often thought of as the perfect social justice solution, when people think of the internet at all.<br />

In a short 20 years, the internet has managed to become so normal that we've actually ceased thinking of it, kind of like we stopped thinking of written text as a technology. But - just like the early days of the printing press - something new has been unleashed; and though it has become normal, it is not neutral. MacKinnon's *Consent of the Networked* illustrates this by taking into account the many ways the internet is tethered to governments, corporations and physical infrastructure. Using case studies focusing on nations as well as companies, MacKinnon illustrates for readers the very high-stakes power struggles that determine the degree of open and free operation for the internet.<br />

She is quick to point out that not all these affiliations are inherently bad news for free speech on the internet, and that many internet bigwigs actively promote its use as a public space - particularly social media companies. But though social media can be a great help to activists wishing to be heard, we'd all do well to remember we use these spaces by privilege, not by right. As MacKinnon reminds us, speech in these spaces is ruled by Terms of Service, not protected by constitutions or human rights.<br />

MacKinnon calls into question assumptions made by those in positions of power, and lays out eloquent arguments for why we must speak truth to these powers. And, while she is optimistic about the potential of the internet as a tool for free speech, she is realistic about the extent to which we can expect it to become a public space available to all. *Consent of the Networked* might be a bit of a dense read, but it also presents the most thoroughly researched and reasoned arguments I've yet read on the role of the internet within the public sphere. It's very highly recommended to anyone with an interest in the Arab Spring, net neutrality, media studies, or political science.

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