Journalist, Internet policy specialist, and author of the book Consent of the Networked, Rebecca MacKinnon focuses on why it is time to stop arguing over whether the Internet empowers people, and addresses the urgent question of how technology should be governed to support the rights and liberties of users around the world.
The Internet was going to liberate us, but for every story about the web’s empowering role in events such as the Arab Spring, there are many more about the quiet corrosion of civil liberties by companies and governments using the same digital technologies we have come to depend on. Sudden changes in Facebook’s features and privacy settings have exposed identities of protestors to police in Egypt and Iran. Apple removes politically controversial apps at the behest of governments as well as for its own commercial reasons. Western companies sell surveillance technology to dictatorships around the world. Google struggles with censorship demands from governments in a range of countries—many of them democracies—as well as mounting public concern over the vast quantities of information it collects about its users.
MacKinnon offers a framework for concerned citizens to understand the complex and often hidden power dynamics amongst governments, corporations, and citizens in cyberspace, arguing that it is time to fight for our rights before they are sold, legislated, programmed, and engineered away. Consent of the Networked is a call to action, warning that a convergence of unchecked government actions and unaccountable company practices threatens the future of democracy and human rights everywhere.
MacKinnon works on global Internet policy as a Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation. She is co-founder of Global Voices, a citizen media network, and a former fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. She is on the board of the Committee to Protect Journalists and worked for twelve years as a journalist in Asia, including as CNN’s Bureau Chief in Tokyo and Beijing.
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