6 Aug 2011
In this powerful talk from TEDGlobal, Rebecca MacKinnon describes the expanding struggle for freedom and control in cyberspace, and asks: How do we design the next phase of the Internet with accountability and freedom at its core, rather than control? She believes the internet is headed for a "Magna Carta" moment when citizens around the world demand that their governments protect free speech and their right to connection.
According to MacKinnon private companies are applying censorship standards that are often quite arbitrary and narrower than the free speech constitutional standards that we have in democracies -- or they are responding to censorship requests by authoritarian regimes that do not reflect the concerns of the governed.
For example, Apple launched the Iphone in China and censored the Dalai Lama application along with several other politically sensitive applications.
The German magazine Stern had its application censored because Apple considered it to be a little too racy for its users.
More controversially, Apple censored a Palestinian protest application after the Israeli government voiced concerns.
MacKinnon contends that we have a new layer of sovereignty in cyberspace where private companies' decisions about engineering, design, software and censorship, all act in ways to shape what we can and cannot do with our digital lives.