Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle For Internet Freedom

Book Review: Consent of the Networked
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Sifriy, techPresident. In many ways, MacKinnon's book is the one Evgeny Morozov should have written, if he was more interested in building a sensible movement for Internet freedom rather than conducting scorched-earth warfare against people who believe the Internet can help strengthen democratic culture It might, but only if we understand what a lucky and unusual accident the Internet really is, and that to keep it open and free, we have to fight for it.

Consent of the Networked describes what's happening, successes and failures, what's next, and what needs to be done. It's the real deal. MacKinnon does a fantastic job of tying her theory and analysis to real-world stories. Her insight into how Western perception of the state of the Internet in China differs from the true situation on the ground is invaluable.

Anne-Marie Slaughter, Bert G.

Consent of the Networked: A Conversation about Internet Freedom

It's accessible, engaging, and periodically hair-raising. Rebecca MacKinnon's book is a clear-eyed guide through that complexity.

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Nye, Jr. Rebecca MacKinnon has written a wonderfully lively and illuminating account of the issues we face in this contentious area. It is well worth reading.

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MacKinnon's stories of the effort occurring worldwide as people harness the Internet, often with a political, socioeconomic or religious motivation, are discerning, harrowing and empowering. From Egypt's record of torturing and jailing bloggers, China's system of corporate-level censorship and South Korea's strict requirements for real identification for online users, Ms. MacKinnon repeatedly strikes the appropriate balance between a technological discussion of the Net and the significance of human rights Packed with thorough and impeccable research and persuasive, eye-opening anecdotes from around the world, Consent of the Networked should spearhead a robust debate and join the handful of other books that successfully guide the reader through the land mines surrounding responsible use of the Internet.

Facebook more recently has put the brakes on doing anything hasty in China but it's my understanding that there's a contingent within the company who remain very keen on the China market.

Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle For Internet Freedom

I don't pretend to understand or relate to the thought processes of Facebook's top management so I have difficulty predicting how what you call their "tune" might "change. You argue in the book that pressure on China from U. I am not saying that this is the intent - or that protecting American intellectual property in China is not desirable. But an unfortunate side effect of anti-piracy crackdowns happens to be that other "infringing" speech as the Chinese government defines it are conveniently swept up with the same broom - in the same way that political blogs and websites have often been casualties of "anti-pornography" cleanups.

When U. Mertha unearthed documents and conducted interviews with the actors involved with building China's copyright regime at the time. In his book he describes how, after the crackdown, advocates within the Chinese bureaucracy of a stronger intellectual property enforcement regime made the argument that antipiracy campaigns provide excellent cover for stamping out everything the government chooses to define as illegal.

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It used to be that people assumed the Internet would eventually bring down the Communist Party. But you argue that the spread of the Internet will likely prolong the Party's rule. What changed?

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In the long run anything is possible but in the near to medium term I believe that the CCP has managed to adapt to the Internet age better than anybody expected. Some scholars argue that the Internet has brought something called "monitory democracy" to China: The Internet enables citizens to monitor the behavior of officials - particularly local ones - and document abuses. The CCP actually benefits from this because it alerts the central government to instances of failed or bad governance, which can then be fixed by replacing the people responsible or otherwise dealing with the problem so that it doesn't get out of hand.

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So you have more give-and-take between government and citizens without the system having to change. I've seen Chinese officials make the case that thanks to Weibo and social media China is already democratizing so it doesn't need multi-party elections or an independent judiciary. However, China's liberals - people who tend to get their blogs censored and deactivated, who get detained and sometimes arrested for their writings and activities - counter that when peaceful speech or assembly that the CCP doesn't like receives no legal protection, there can be no real democracy.


Such arguments, ironically, get censored quite often. Which is why I think what we're seeing on the Chinese Internet is better described as "authoritarian deliberation" or "networked authoritarianism" rather than any term that includes the word "democracy. If China someday gains a more fair, just, and accountable system of government it will be due to the hard work and efforts of the Chinese people, not due to the inexorable workings of any particular technology.

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When Google pulled its search servers out of China in , you wrote that the company had moved onto the right side of history. Two years later, do you still feel the same way? Yes I do. Most of the China punditry, the China-focused business community and - no offense - China-focused journalists have generally overlooked the fact that Google's decision was not just about China.

It was about Google's global brand reputation, its relationship and credibility with its global user base, and its relationships with governments all over the world. If you look at the Google Transparency Report, first published in late , which Google uses to disclose government censorship demands and user information requests around the world, Google is under growing pressure from governments everywhere to censor its services more aggressively.

When Google made its decision to take Google. Many governments were pointing to Google's China censorship and requesting the same thing in their country. Google entered China in thinking it could make a difference and help loosen up the censorship regime.

Consent of the Networked:The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom

Instead things just got worse - not just in China but globally. Still, Chinese Internet users were getting more from the censored Google. From a short-term, China-only business perspective, you can argue that they made the wrong decision on all fronts. But when you look at the situation from a long-term, global perspective, it looks quite different. Is anonymity is more important in China? Share this:.