SOTD: The End of Free Communications?

27 Apr 2008

SOTD: The End of Free Communications? Oscar Swartz teams up with the other speakers at FSCONS. Oscar will give a speech called The End of Free Communications? I discuss initiatives to curtail free communications. I put the development in a broader cultural context where I see the Internet as undermining old authorities and hierarchies. The established powers respond by waging unwinnable wars against imagined enemies and ill-defined groups: "terrorists", "pirates" and "pedophiles". We should all think of "freedom-based" responses to cope with the cultural angst that the Internet apparently leads to for the old world authorities. We don't have to - and should not! - abolish free communications. Techniques adopted by the state include surveillance of traffic, content filtering, data retention, criminal and civil (sue for damages) means of attacking Internet users and ISPs, even border searches of laptops. The most Orwellian law of them all was passed by the Swedish parliament on June 18, 2008. All Internet and phone traffic that passes the border of Sweden will be copied to the state "secret service" for analysis. "Lex Orwell" led to unprecedented protests from bloggers and activists. This finally spilled over to old media and the political establishment was put under serious pressure. At the time of the conference we might now the final outcome of this popular uprising. There is a possibility that the law will be overturned. I will cover this development. Original post: