The Internet is the place where we meet, speak, create, educate ourselves and organize. However, as we are at a turning point in early web history, it could either become a prime tool for improving our societies, knowledge and culture, or a totalitarian tool of suveillance and control.
After 15 years of fighting the sharing of culture in the name of an obsolete copyright regime, governments of the World are uniting to control and censor the Internet. The black-out of the Egyptian Net, the US government’s reaction to Wikileaks, the adoption of website blocking mechanisms in Europe, or the plans for “Internet kill switches” are all major threats on our freedom of expression and communication. These threats come from corporations and politicians, unsettled by the advent of the Internet.
As a host of the G8, France’s president Nicolas Sarkozy wants to step up centralized control over the Internet. He has convened world leaders to a summit aimed at working towards a “civilized Internet”, a concept he borrowed from the Chinese government. By creating fears such as “cyber-terrorism”, their objective is to generalize rules of exception in order to establish censorship and control, thereby undermining free speech and other civil liberties.
They will package this policy using words like “democracy” and “responsibility”, but look at their acts. Sarkozy has already enabled disconnection of citizens from the Internet and the censorship of online content in France.
The Internet allows us to express our opinions universally. The Internet unites us and makes us strong. It is a space in which the common civilisation of our diverse planet meets. Our imaginations, through all kinds of media we create and publish, help us protect our rights and a free Internet. As world leaders gather at the end of this month, we must all come together and use our creativity to reject any attempt at turning the Internet into a tool of repression and control.