Web 2.0 versus Control 2.0

The fight for free access to information is being played out to an ever greater extent on the Internet. The emerging general trend is that a growing number of countries are attemptimg to tighten their control of the Net, but at the same time, increasingly inventive netizens demonstrate mutual solidarity by mobilizing when necessary.

The Internet: a space for information-sharing and mobilizing

In authoritarian countries in which the traditional media are state-controlled, the Internet offers a unique space for discussion and information-sharing, and has become an ever more important engine for protest and mobilization. The Internet is the crucible in which repressed civil societies can revive and develop.

The new media, and particularly social networks, have given populations’ collaborative tools with which they can change the social order. Young people have taken them by storm. Facebook has become the rallying point for activists prevented from demonstrating in the streets. One simple video on YouTube – Neda in Iran or the Saffron march of the monks in Burma – can help to expose government abuses to the entire world. One simple USB flashdrive can be all it takes to disseminate news – as in Cuba, where they have become the local “samizdats.”

Here, economic interest are intertwined with the need to defend free circulation of information. In some countries, it is companies that have obtained better access to the Internet and to the new media, sometimes with positive consequences for the rest of the population.As a barrier to trade,Web censorship should be included on the agenda of the WorldTrade Organization. Several of latter’s members, including China and Vietnam, should to be required to open their Internet networks before being invited to join the global village of international commerce… Continue reading.

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