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16:06

2012 Look Ahead. SOPA and ACTA Are a Big Deal

 

This post opens a January mini blog post series devoted to 2012 social tech trends. Even though old divisions (when it comes to time, as well as geography) are of less and less appliance in the modern (tech) world, 2012 already seems to be critical for various tech-driven decisions of global importance. 

In a series of posts this week, we will be exploring the near future of web design, as well as the mobile trends; we will also call out a few #protips for going greener technology-wise. 

This post was supposed to be, only and as much as, an invitation for staying tuned to our Net2 channels, and taking part in discussions around emerging nptech trends. However, the recent SOPA and ACTA developments brought yet another thing to our attention. 

Both regulations address the intellectual property issues, and are considered a threat to the freedom in the Internet (freedom of access, and freedom of speech). I will not go into the details of SOPA and ACTA here. Instead, I would like to look at the social response to the proposed regulations. For these interested, I provide additional links to reliable information sources on the topic on the bottom of the post.

 

The Power Of Feedback

Last week in the US was marked with a series of websites blackouts -- a widely spread digital protest joined by many local and international and local domains. By blacking out the Internet US citizens 2.0 provided their authorities with a feedback of a strength and reach never seen before.

On the same week that the Internet went black in the US, the Polish government announced that on January the 26th it will sign the international ACTA agreement. For the past three years ACTA has been negotiated in secret by 39 countries, some of them (including the US) already signed the regulation. Civil society, developing countries, as well as the Internet users has been excluded from the conversation, as they were in the case of SOPA.

Hactivism -- Tweet by Tweet

In response to the Polish government declaration, an online community of hackers via their Twitter profile (AnonymousWiki) called to action: “POLAND NEEDS A REVOLUTION. Government signing on the 26th!”. By 2:00 AM many government and public institutions’ sites got blocked and blacked out. The protest included a popular prime minister’s daughter blog on fashion and make up. Instead of the usual lipstick & hairstyle photos the site would reveal a note: “Tell Your Dad He Won’t Win With Us. Stop ACTA” ("Powiedz Tacie, że z nami nie wygra. STOP ACTA") -- check out the print screen image on the right.

Anonynmous called hacktivists to put the protests on hold until the Minster of Administration and Digitization, Michał Boni, speaks to the prime minister. Due to the protests the meeting has been scheduled for today (Monday, Jan the 23rd). It is very likely that the rapid online response to the threat of signing ACTA without any serious social consultations will block the process for the time being. 

 

A Big Deal

I wanted to write about SOPA and ACTA protests in the context of the 2012 Look Ahead, because it speaks to a very important global trend. It has been said during the Arab Spring, that Social Media gave Arab people the voice, and empowered them to act. It seems to me that SOPA and ACTA are a somewhat similar case. As the opponents of the acts claim, governments and corporations have been systematically limiting people’s freedom, and despite numerous protests have often remained unpunished. The last month has shown that citizens 2.0 have tools and motivation to feedback government actions, and to fight back at these they find oppressive.

It Is Not a Zero-Sum Game

The question of methods, as applicable to radical activists’ and (h)activists’ initiatives, constitute a problem here: how should we fight back, and what will be considered crossing the line? Does the immorality of one side justify the attacks of the other? And finally: what does the democratic potential of the Internet really translate into?

These questions are the ones to ask now, and during the following months. I won’t say that 2012 will bring all the answers, but will definitely force us into taking a stand.

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By bringing up the challenges of transparency and democracy we kicked off the 2012 blog series from the very top -- meta level -- of the tech pyramid.  Tech driven reality has many layers, and we will be diving right into them during the next couple of days. Tomorrow, we will look at  the 2012 trends in web design. Stay with us! Important trends we are missing in our little 2012 Look Ahead Series? Share yours -- we will welcome all your adds.

 

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