The Battle for the Internet

From Berkman@10
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The session was intended to be a discussion of who would be fighting for the soul of the internet and where. I was thinking of fleshing out Zittrain's framework of generativity vs. security. The martial title, however, brought in relatively militant discussants, so we mostly talked about government, control, crime, and openness.

The players I've arranged them from Left to Right, depending upon their commitment to the past and control, Top to Bottom, based upon their praiseworthiness. (This is a wiki, feel free to revise my opinions.)

                                                   Government Agencies
                                          Content Owners
                                                               Comcast & Cox
            Commercial Spies
                                Russia and China
            Organized Crime

The "battlefields" identified were mostly issues rather than locations. However, Africa and Asia were discussed briefly as places where cell phones were vital additions to their lives, not just alternative internet devices.


  • DRM: The content owners vs. the consumers with the PC industry caught in the middle.
  • Anonymity: The Right described the needs for dependable authentication claiming the internet's anonymity is far too pervasive. The Left observed that anonymity is a constitutional right.
  • Identity Integrity: Being impersonated can be a problem. Being authenticated in a blog comment can allow you to build credibility.
  • Encryption: Left and Right agreed that the barriers to adoption have been usability and enterprise customers, not government, wanting to control users.
  • Traffic Blocking: If you count Comcast and Cox blocking Bit Torrent, the US does more than any other country.
  • Transparency: The biggest complaint against Comcast service tweaking was their misleading customers. Google and others can be collecting information, but we don't know what -- the new Panopticon.