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Ai Weiwei: How censorship works

BEIJING — In the space of a month in 2014, at separate art exhibitions in Beijing and Shanghai that included my work, my name was blotted out — in one case by government officials and by exhibitors themselves in the other case. Some people might take such treatment in stride, as nothing to get huffy about. But as an artist, I view the labels on my work as a measure of the value I have produced — like water-level markers at a riverbank. Other people might just shrug, but I…

A truly ‘open Internet’ would be free of burdensome FCC regulation

In late April, FCC chairman Ajit Pai announced at a press conference at the Newseum that his agency would revisit its 2015 determination that Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 gave it broad authority to regulate the Internet, including the ability to scrutinize online content, routine negotiations between firms, and cutting-edge services. The American public will hear howling all summer from D.C., New York, and San Francisco, as tech bloggers, lobbyists, late-night talk-show hosts, and leading newspapers attempt to spin the decision as some kind of corporate giveaway.…

The global push for cyber sovereignty Is the beginning of cyber fascism

Earlier this month, as much of the world’s attention was elsewhere, the Chinese government announced their new cybersecurity law. While the new law was ostensibly adopted to increase security, a range of features have been criticized by human rights and multinational groups alike. Indicative of China’s push for cyber sovereignty — the complete government control of the internet within their borders — the law requires (among other things) network operators to disclose the identities of users and corporations to adhere to data residence requirements, including potentially turning over source code…

Silencing the Messenger: Communication Apps Under Pressure

Internet freedom has declined for the sixth consecutive year, with more governments than ever before targeting social media and communication apps as a means of halting the rapid dissemination of information, particularly during anti-government protests. Public-facing social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have been subject to growing censorship for several years, but in a new trend, governments increasingly target voice communication and messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram. These services are able to spread information and connect users quickly and securely, making it more difficult for authorities to control…

The new power of manipulation

The relationship between democracy and the Internet is turning sour. Both totalitarian and democratic nations are seeing an increase in online censorship and the mass surveillance of users. Disinformation and propaganda are perceptibly evolving into effective anti-democratic tools. A major new threat [to Internet freedom] currently attracting discussion is the Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME), something Robert Epstein from the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology has been researching since 2012. Epstein has proven that it’s possible to change people’s political opinions by manipulating the online search results returned by…

Losing Internet Freedom

At the stroke of midnight on September 30, 2016, America said good-bye to its long-time oversight of the internet, and along with it, the certainty of internet freedom. Because the internet was started in the United States, from its inception, the system of managing domain names and numbers has always been conducted in or by the United States. In 1998, the Department of Commerce (DoC) contracted ICANN, a California-based non-profit, to perform the function of IANA[1] management. It’s a critical role to ensure that internet domain names are not…

We shouldn’t give away the Internet to authoritarian regimes

The essence of human freedom, of civilization itself, is cooperation: cooperation between friends and family; businesses and customers; entrepreneurs and employees. History and human experience teach that humans cooperate best when they do so voluntarily, without government coercion. That is why I fully support the eventual transition of control over the internet from the Department of Commerce and to a private entity. But I also worry that President Barack Obama is hastily rushing the current transfer of power to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which could make it…

Welcome to the Dark Net, a wilderness where invisible world wars are fought and hackers roam free

His name is not Opsec, but I will call him that to guard his privacy. In webspace he is known as a grand master of the dark art of hacking. He is one of a small elite—maybe a hundred, maybe fewer—all of whom are secretive and obsessed with security. They do not talk about their work with their families. They generally do not talk to the press. Nonetheless, through friends of friends, Opsec agreed to speak and to introduce me to his perspectives. In “meatspace,” as he and others like…

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