Computers, Privacy & the Constitution
I don't know if people saw John Markoff's article, "Do We Need A New Internet?" in this weekend's NY Times, but I thought it was an interesting piece. Though not completely on topic (in terms of our discussion of the Fourth Amendment), it raises some interesting issues and questions that are worth thinking about. I'm interested to hear what people have to say about it.

-- AlexLawrence - 16 Feb 2009

I see the push for a New Internet more in PartOne terms than in PartFour terms: as an attempt to undo the gains in anonymity allowed by the Old Internet (with their positive and negative consequences).

-- DanielHarris - 17 Feb 2009

The threat from malware and botnets is definitely real and growing. It's facilitated in equal parts by anonymity and the public's general ignorance about the pedigree posed by the code they run on their computers, which (thankfully) remain open platforms. Jonathan Zittrain has proposed some potential approaches to dealing with malware that try to preserve the benefits of anonymity and open platform. While I think there's a certain element of romanticism to some of his proposals, he's probably asking the right questions. It's too early to throw in the towel on the substantial positives of anonymity and open platforms.

-- AndreiVoinigescu - 17 Feb 2009

My problem with this proposal is that it promotes the misconception of "the Internet" as some physical thing that can be used or changed, when I think we all understand by now that "the Internet" merely stands for the set of social conditions whereby instantaneous communication between any two computers is possible without intermediation, made possible by the universality of communication via TCP/IP and other protocols. There is simply no way to discard this set of social conditions now that the tools exist to implement them somewhere. What might occur is simply a permutation of the trend of consumers conceding freedom in exchange for of perceived security, which will take the form of closed and opaque protocols, kept secret and proprietary so that people will be "safe" from malware. It will likely be an inferior product, collect untold amounts of private data, and further lock consumers into whatever service offers it first.

-- RickSchwartz - 17 Feb 2009

I hope this isn't too presumptuous of me, but I've copied the conversation here and posted it to the Questions and Discussion page for the sake of consolidation. Obviously the conversation can continue here as well, but it might be easier for people to follow one page of changes.

-- RickSchwartz - 17 Feb 2009



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r5 - 05 Jan 2010 - 21:52:37 - IanSullivan
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