(Future 3) Keeping The Internet Dream Alive : Jennifer Granick’s Keynote Speech

Jennifer Granick

  1. Must see and must read: Jennifer Granick at the Blackhat Conference 2015, on August 10,  giving her keynote speech about “the Internet Dream” that seems to end…. if we do not think and act soon.

** The full text can be read here: https://medium.com/backchannel/the-end-of-the-internet-dream-ba060b17da61 This is a modified version of what she said, improved by herself and also published at: http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/publications/end-internet-dream (dated August 17)

** And the Video recording of what she presented is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tjvw5fz_GuA  (15:48 onwards)

2. Here are 2 exerpts from the text,  the beginning and the end remarks about what we should do:

=======exerpt 1 from speech========

Twenty years ago I attended my first Def Con. I believed in a free, open, reliable, interoperable Internet: a place where anyone can say anything, and anyone who wants to hear it can listen and respond. I believed in the Hacker Ethic: that information should be freely accessible and that computer technology was going to make the world a better place. I wanted to be a part of making these dreams — the Dream of Internet Freedom — come true. As an attorney, I wanted to protect hackers and coders from the predations of law so that they could do this important work. Many of the people in this room have spent their lives doing that work.

But today, that Dream of Internet Freedom is dying.

For better or for worse, we’ve prioritized things like security, online civility, user interface, and intellectual property interests above freedom and openness. The Internet is less open and more centralized. It’s more regulated. And increasingly it’s less global, and more divided. These trends: centralization, regulation, and globalization are accelerating. And they will define the future of our communications network, unless something dramatic changes.

=============exerpt 2 from speech============

Freedom of Expression

Today, the physical architecture and the corporate ownership of the communications networks we use have changed in ways that facilitate rather than defeat censorship and control. In the U.S., copyright was the first cause for censorship, but now we are branching out to political speech.

Governments see the power of platforms and have proposed that social media companies alert federal authorities when they become aware of terrorist-related content on their sites. A U.N. panel last month called on the firms to respond to accusations that their sites are being exploited by the Islamic State and other groups. At least at this point, there’s no affirmative obligation to police in the U.S.

But you don’t have to have censorship laws if you can bring pressure to bear. People cheer when Google voluntarily delists so-called revenge porn, when YouTube deletes ISIS propaganda videos, when Twitter adopts tougher policies on hate speech. The end result is collateral censorship, by putting pressure on platforms and intermediaries, governments can indirectly control what we say and what we experience.

What that means is that governments, or corporations, or the two working together increasingly decide what we can see. It’s not true that anyone can say anything and be heard anywhere. It’s more true that your breast feeding photos aren’t welcome and, increasingly, that your unorthodox opinions about radicalism will get you placed on a list.

Make no mistake, this censorship is inherently discriminatory. Muslim “extremist” speech is cause for alarm and deletion. But no one is talking about stopping Google from returning search results for the Confederate flag.

Globalization means other governments are in the censorship mix. I’m not just talking about governments like Russia and China. There’s also the European Union, with its laws against hate speech, Holocaust denial, and its developing Right To Be Forgotten. Each country wants to enforce its own laws and protect and police its citizens as it sees fit, and that means a different internet experience for different countries or regions. In Europe, accurate information is being delisted from search engines, to make it harder or impossible to find. So much for talking to everyone everywhere in real time. So much for having everything on the Internet shelf.

Worse, governments are starting to enforce their laws outside their borders through blocking orders to major players like Google and to ISPs. France is saying to Google, don’t return search results that violate our laws to anyone, even if it’s protected speech that we are entitled to in the U.S. If you follow this through to the obvious conclusion, every country will censor everywhere. It will be intellectual baby food.

How much free speech does a free society really need? Alternatively how much sovereignty should a nation give up to enable a truly global network to flourish?

Right now, if we don’t change course and begin to really value having a place for even the edgy and disruptive speech, our choice is between network balkanization and a race to the bottom.

Which will we pick?

The Next 20 Years

The future for freedom and openness appears to be far bleaker than we had hoped for 20 years ago. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Let me describe another future where the Internet Dream lives and thrives.

We start to think globally. We need to deter another terrorist attack in New York, but we can’t ignore impact our decisions have on journalists and human rights workers around the world. We strongly value both.

We build in decentralization where possible: Power to the People. And strong end to end encryption can start to right the imbalance between tech, law and human rights.

We realize the government has no role in dictating communications technology design.

We start being afraid of the right things and stop being driven by irrational fear. We reform the CFAA, the DMCA, the Patriot Act and foreign surveillance law. We stop being so sensitive about speech and we let noxious bullshit air out. If a thousand flowers bloom, the vast majority of them will be beautiful.

Today we’ve reached an inflection point. If we change paths, it is still possible that the Dream of Internet Freedom can become true. But if we don’t, it won’t. The Internet will continue to evolve into a slick, stiff, controlled and closed thing. And that dream I have — that so many of you have — will be dead. If so, we need to think about creating the technology for the next lifecycle of the revolution. In the next 20 years we need to get ready to smash the Internet apart and build something new and better.


I encourage you in every nerd-nest of this planet tp read the speech and watch her present it several times. Beacause it is important for all of us and for our childrens’s children.

IMH opinion I like to add two comments:

A. The “right to tinker” is not only vital to learn by many  how “things” including software work by taking these things apart. Also only by mixing and interconnecting the resulting “components” from very different points of view and culture, in new constructive and creative ways our young of mind can create synthesize synthesis  and see how new things work. In that way they can create wealth and much needed jobs.

B. By swarming locally and globally  the diverse skilled and talented can flock together and give P2P each other big picture oversight which can be correlated and assembled into collective intelligent groups with decentral authority to act. New power !!

And last but not least:  WE INTERNAUTS should start writing together The Ligare Liberum:  the law of Freedom of Passage of Idea’s between people wherever they are and whatever their context. This the name of this law refers to the Mare Liberum “Law of Freedom at the Sea” and free passage through sea lanes by Hugo Grotius in 1609. Ligare refers to Latin word for: connect, bind, tie, unite. To paraphrase the poem by John Perry Brown, referred to by Jennifer Granick in her speech: The Ligare Liberum should empower and safeguard the freedom of that which we have between our ears and which we want to connect to other minds. Nation states and business corporations have no jurisdiction there nor on the content of  P2P links.

This may prepare us for the next phases of the ever evolving, learning, living and growing Internet.

Jaap van Till. TheConnectivist

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