Aleks Krotoski's blog post about nation states and the web
outlined the difficulties the web presents to governments and nation states; be that in the issues of free flow of data that may challenge or undermine the state from within and without, or as a source of unchecked and unwelcome in-flowing ideologies.
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So, does this ring true? Is the web a revolutionary tool that allows us to watch the watchmen
? Or are governments able to thwart Bill's vision of the open and critical eyes on their actions?
The programme team are looking for examples of the web being blocked and undermined: specific instances; links to stories; personal experiences of being censored or suspended by the powers that be - and how that affected you.
Transcript of Bill's presentation:
The web, I think, counts as one of the most important things we've managed to do as a species
. And whilst at the moment it's only really available to the twenty per cent of the world that Tim [Berners-Lee] referred to
, many of us in the privileged Western world, who have easy access to these technologies, we can still see that it has a long way to go, but it is changing things. So it's no wonder therefore that many people around the world and many governments around the world want to control it, because they see it as being a threat.
They see it as being a threat. We see the governments of China, of Saudi Arabia, of Iran and Burma and Guatemala, and of course those great democracies, the United States and the United Kingdom, working as hard as they possibly can to manage and control and corral the web and indeed the wider internet
, to try to put it under their control so they can stop it challenging their boundaries, because when Tim built the web he built http
not to respect national boundaries but to work over the internet, which is, thanks to TCP/IP
, a profoundly international and global network.
They want to put blocks in place, they want to spend money with companies like Cisco to buy firewalls
and routers that will monitor traffic and filter it off to their police and to their secret services, and they want to do everything they possibly can to take this enormously creative medium, this enormously creative technology, and block it and limit its potential, because they know that it can make the world a better place.
I remember interviewing Tim for the Guardian, it must have been about 1996, 1997, and he said to me then that one of the reasons that he valued what he'd done, that he thought it was worth building the web in the first place, was it would allow people to find out more about their neighbours, that if, he said, we knew more about the people next door, the people in the next country, we might want to kill them less often. Sadly, and I really am sad about this, that does not seem to have happened. We still do want to kill our neighbours far too often. And we need to find something, a way to do something about that. But thanks to the web it's much harder to get away with killing your neighbours, and that makes the world a better place. It is harder to suppress information.
The web provides ways for data to get out, to tunnel through. The people who created it, the technologists, the programmers, the developers, find ways to get through those barriers. And as long as that happens, as long as the spirit of the web is about that, is about openness, then I think it will continue to grow and thrive and help us all.