Internet Freedom: More than Circumvention

In today's Journal, Rebecca MacKinnon has an op-ed on the struggle in Washington to get the money to be the guy who uses the internet to knock down authoritarian governments around the world. Easier said than done, she says, and calls attention to the fact that circumvention tools-- while great for getting around censorship-- are not the silver bullet they've been made out to be.

Many governments have gone beyond censorship and begun using new tactics to control the online public sphere: "cyber-attacks, surveillance, and good old-fashioned intimidation" are all part of ever-more sophisticated efforts at crushing online dissent, and the dissidents, in many places, are losing the battle badly. So, beyond circumvention, MacKinnon writes:

A range of fast-evolving technical problems requires an array of solutions. Activists around the world need technical assistance and training in order to fight cyber-attacks more effectively. We need more coordination between human rights activists, technology companies and policy makers just to understand the problems, and how they can be expected to evolve in the next few years. What's more, existing research indicates that many of the problems aren't technical, but rather political, legal, regulatory and even social.

I'd encourage a read of the whole piece, here.  Happy Friday.