The Seesaw of Internet Freedom and Regulation

February 21, 2012

Author Jeff Jarvis is torn. In his most recent book, Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and LiveJarvis argues against internet regulation.  At the same time, he advocates government enforcement of net neutrality, itself a form of regulation.  It’s not only Jarvis who struggles with what level of regulation, if any, is needed and for what purpose.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a speech in 2010 defending internet freedom.  She called for “a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas.” The following year she delivered another speech which simultaneously condemned censorship and attacked WikiLeaks for its release of government data.

On his blog, Jarvis looks at the tension between freedom and regulation, the need for open exchange and the right to privacy and protection. In a recent post, “We Are the Lobbyists,” Jarvis further explores the consequence of these frictions:

The proposed SOPA-PIPA bill is designed to fight online trafficking of copyrighted intellectual property. The proposed bill, and resulting protest, brought many issues to the fore including the dramatically changing natures of media business models, the evolution in the value of content, the undermining of institutions’ previous unchallenged power.

It also created an environment where millions of consumers became lobbyists, using the net to defend internet freedom. The internet provided a platform in which users could make an impact without using “influence peddlers” or political commercials.  The movement only “needed citizens who give a shit. Democracy.” It is up to the internet public to protect the “tool of publicness.”

See Jeff Jarvis speak about the balance of internet privacy and publicness at the BRITE ’12 Conference (March 5-6, NYC).

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BY KIM SHIFRIN

 

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