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    • Politics Series: Power
      (Previous: Economy) (Introduction and Table of Contents) We have seen that who gets how much of what is a political decision: that the economy and economics is downstream from politics. Power is the ability to make people do what you want, or not do what you don’t want. Ideology determines what the good life is and power determines who lives it. All politica […]
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Podcast alert: Defending the Internet

Fire up your iPod!

As you may know, I am a podcast junky.

(“I can stop any time I want to.”

Then Stop

“I don’t want to.”)

For the past several months, the monkeys on my back have been This Week in Tech (TWIT) and This Week in Google (TWIG).  The latest episode of TWIG focuses on the battle between the free internet peoples, er, that would be *us*, and the forces of corporatism (neo-feudalism) that are threatening our freedom of speech around the world.  Jeff Jarvis reports on his latest trip to Germany, where privacy laws are strict in the extreme, but is probably an understandable psychological response to the history of fascism during WWII, followed by Soviet repression and the Stasi in East Germany.  From there, the panel discusses the opposite extreme in China where no internet company operating there is allowed privacy outside of the dictates of the Communist government.  Jarvis makes a persuasive case that Google, by pulling out of China in order to protect the anonymity of its users, is standing alone in the world right now and making a political statement similar to the ones we used to make over Apartheid in South Africa.

Whatever your opinion of Google or whether you agree with Jeff Jarvis’ assessment, this is a situation that should be getting a lot more attention than it has recently.  Recall that not too long ago, Hillary Clinton (Oh, no, not HER again), made a strong defense of freedom of speech, freedom of Internet speech in particular.  TWIG host Leo Laporte suggests that we should be discussing the issue with more urgency.  I agree with him.  Without sufficient attention, Google stands alone against a country that as Jarvis points out, has more internet users than we have people in the United States.  It’s a huge and lucrative market that Google is pulling out of and they aren’t getting enough coverage for taking such a bold and courageous move.   There’s a principle involved here and we at The Confluence like bold, principled moves.

But there’s more.  Britain is about to ram a bill through Parliament that will allow copyright holders to disconnect violators from the internet.  Yep, violate a copyright, lose your right to surf.  Quick and painless, for them.  For you?  Ehhh, not so much.  The bill is poorly written and not getting the thorough overview it needs.  It sounds like a shortcut to booting people you don’t like off of their ISP.  Sort of a shoot-now-ask-questions-later thing. It’s being rushed through the legislative process without enough overview, just before an election cycle when people are distracted.  Jeez, that sounds so familiar…  So to kick off the conversation on Internet Freedom here, I am linking to TWIG’s latest podcast on the subject: Self-aggrandizing Jerks.

One other note:  I love Gina Trapani.  Her commentary and tips are really excellent.  But she has been working with the Obama Administration on a White House Twitter project to collect user feedback and opinions on different issues.  Gina, I wouldn’t trust Obama’s White House with a 10 foot poll.  For all I know, they will use the information to shape their next round of propaganda.  She is way too optimistic about this White House.  Maybe it’s because she’s young but she just doesn’t seem to have developed the right level of wariness.  Or I’m reading too much into this project or something.  I dunno.  Proceed with caution with the White House talk thingie.