Friday, December 10, 2010

Corporations are Bad for Dissent

Wikileaks has become big news with what is now being called cablegate. The merits and demerits of wikileaks and the morality and ethics of the way governments are trying to silence them are matters of debate. I do not wish to get into this debate on my blog. I do however want to point out one crucial lesson we can all learn from the whole fiasco.

I think we can all agree that dissent and freedom of speech is fundamental for a healthy democracy. The idea is that dissent is the internal check and balance that keeps people in power doing the right thing, brings about needed changes and challenges established notions.

But the wikileaks scandal has shown how easy it has become for governments to squash dissent in the internet age. A massive denial of service attack was launched on wikileaks. Their move to the Amazon cloud was promptly shut down too. Paypal then refused to handle payments for wikileaks. Their DNS service was shut down. And now it seems that twitter is censoring its trending topics to not show wikileaks at all.

I won’t be surprised if ISPs are asked to completely block wikileaks.

The problem here is that while people and institutions take moral and ethical stands (see statement by a SIPA dean), corporations don’t. Corporations care about profit and not freedom of speech or dissent or human rights. We may harp about the freedom of the internet and all that but the truth is, a vast majority of the internet infrastructure is owned by corporations and there is no way that’s going to lead to any freedom or the so called democratization of information.

To be clear again, I’m not defending or attacking wikileaks here. I’m just saying that corporations are bad for dissent and that the internet is not the magical democratic tool that it’s often made out to be.

2 comments:

  1. Yes. Just the thought going on in my mind right now. How our sense of logic and rationality is mostly dictated by economics and how economics completely ignores the fact that everything is a limited resource. Our environment for example.
    And Jairam Ramesh just is beginning to accede into the demands for joining the carbon treaty something. There should have not been any need for all of this. We could have all shared all of it. There's more than enough.

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  2. BTW have you read Small is Beautiful?

    And the spam captcha is bloody irritating. Do you actually get so much spam? :P like revolve facebook images 360 degrees

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