- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books (31 Jan. 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0465024424
- ISBN-13: 978-0465024421
- Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.5 x 23.5 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 996,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom Hardcover – 31 Jan 2012
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For nearly a decade, Rebecca MacKinnon has been at the center of evolving debates about how the Internet will affect democracy, privacy, individual liberties, and the other values free societies want to defend. Here she makes a persuasive and important case that, as with other technological revolutions through history, the effects of today's new communications systems, for human liberation or for oppression, will depend not on the technologies themselves but rather on the resolve of citizens to shape the way in which they are used . --James Fallows, National Correspondent,The Atlantic
Consent of the Networked will become the seminal book firmly establishing the responsibility of those who control the architecture and the politics of the network to the citizens who inhabit our new digital world --Joi Ito, Director, MIT Media Lab
Cyber Power and governanve of the internet is on eof the great unsolved problems of the twent-first century. Rebecca MacKinnon has written a wonderfully lively and illuminating account of the issues we face in this contentious era. It is well worth reading. --Joseph S. Nye, Jr Universtiy Distingushed Service Professor Harvard University
About the Author
Rebecca MacKinnon is Co-founder of Global Voices Online and a Fellow at the New America Foundation. MacKinnon is frequently interviewed by major media, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, FT, BBC and other news outlets. She lives in Washington, DC.
Top Customer Reviews
She explains clearly how governments like Burma, Syria and Egypt have managed to close down the Internet locally for short periods and how governments like China and Russia exercise what she calls respectively "networked authoritarianism" and "digital bonapartism". She sets out how even democratic governments are increasingly wanting to exercise more control over the Net with her native USA opposing the WikiLeaks material going online and having some 50 Internet-related Bills in Congress. She assesses the power and responsibility of what she calls the "sovereigns of cyberspace" such as "Googledom" and "Facebookistan" and highlights how discretonary are their terms of service and how opaque are their processes for removing content.
Like so many books critiquing uses and abuses of the Internet, however, the solutions proposed are very partial and lack detail. The problem is that there are fundamental contradictions in our attitudes to the Internet, even if we broadly share the same 'Western' values of individualism and liberty.
So anonymity on the Net is vital if political activists are to be free to use social media to challenge repressive regimes as during the Arab spring or today in countries like China with its 'Great Firewall'. Yet that same facility to be anonymous enables pedophiles to exchange sexual abuse images of children or professional workers like teachers to be libelled or cyber-bullied with impunity. This is why Facebook insists on all users identifying themselves.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Her book is an attempt to take the Net freedom movement to the next level; to formalize it and to put in place a set of governance principles that will help us hold the "sovereigns of cyberspace" more accountable. Many of her proposals are quite sensible. But my primary problem with MacKinnon's book lies in her use of the term "digital sovereigns" or "sovereigns of cyberspace" and the loose definition of "sovereignty" that pervades the narrative. She too often blurs and equates private power and political power, and she sometimes leads us to believe that the problem of the dealing with the mythical nation-states of "Facebookistan" and "Googledom" is somehow on par with the problem of dealing with actual sovereign power -- government power -- over digital networks, online speech, and the world's Netizenry.
But MacKinnon has many other ideas about Net governance in the book that are less controversial and entirely sensible. She wants to "expand the technical commons" by building and distributing more tools to help activists and make organizations more transparent and accountable. These would include circumvention and anonymization tools, software and programs that allow both greater data security and portability, and devices and network systems to expand the range of communication and participation, especially in more repressed countries. She would also like to see neitzens "devise more systematic and effective strategies for organizing, lobbying, and collective bargaining with the companies whose service we depend upon -- to minimize the chances that terms of service, design choices, technical decisions, or market entry strategies could put people at risk or result in infringement of their rights." This also makes sense as part of a broader push for improved corporate social responsibility.
Regarding law, she takes a mixed view. She says: "There is a need for regulation and legislation based on solid data and research (as opposed to whatever gets handed to legislative staffers by lobbyists) as well as consultation with a genuinely broad cross-section of people and groups affected by the problem the legislation seeks to solve, along with those likely to be affected by the proposed solutions." Of course, that's a fairly ambiguous standard that could open the door to excessive political meddling with the Net if we're not careful. Overall, though, she acknowledges how regulation so often lags far behind innovation. "A broader and more intractable problem with regulating technology companies is that legislation appears much too late in corporate innovation and business cycles," she rightly notes.
MacKinnon's book will be of great interest to Internet policy scholars and students, but it is also accessible to a broader audience interested in learning more about the debates and policies that will shape the future of the Internet and digital networks for many years to come.
My entire review of "Consent of the Networked" can be found on the Technology Liberation Front blog.