Saturday, June 23, 2012

Opening Session

So we arrived slightly late to the opening session, and got there in the middle of the awards. Of note: the South Carolina Library Association for the their work to overturn the governor's in only a week. Awesome.

Rebecca MacKinnon was the keynote speaker. She is a noted journalist who has worked in China and works with global internet policies through Global Voices. There is a struggle for internet freedom, or rather a struggle to maintain a freedom to access information regardless of the information source. She talked a lot about the grassroots struggle to allow political movements onto the internet and not be policed by the government. Case in point The File: A Personal History by Timothy Garton Ash, where a reporter went back to Berlin and was able to read his Stasi file and see who had reported on him during the Cold War or the Egypt state security files that were discovered to have information collected from the internet containing very personal information: Skype calls, emails, tweets, etc. Rebecca continued to give examples of internet platforms and applications that police the information on their servers. She then talked about the "Werner von Braun" by Tom Lehrer, and how the ethics of information is getting muddled. We see this coming into play more, as the relationship between citizens and the government is becoming more mediated by the internet. Rebecca wants to know how we can keep the internet neutral so that we may continue to gather information from all sources. Regardless of whether or not that source might be considered offensive or extremist. There is a slow movement ensure that our 'sovereigns of cyberspace,' i.e. Facebook, Google, Apple, are maintaining transparency when dealing with governments and reporting. Rebecca highlighted two movements and that she thinks are moving in the right direction.

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