This is a very interesting topic Jason chose for his class presentation last week. I think he summarized really well the problems adressed by the issue of the “fredom” regarding the Internet as a new way of communication and artistic expression. Although his presentation focused on the dangers of a potential “pay-per-use” Internet and the need of a “real free” Internet, I would like to talk about now about 2 other aspects that I find directly related to the “freedom” problem in the Internet. I'm referring to the progressive and alarming invasion on the user's privacy rights and the widening gap between rich and poor societies in the field of information technology.
I'm really worried about those “social networks” like Facebook or Myspace. Identity fraud, uncontrolled expansion of personal data or the possibility that companies spy their potential employees are some of the risks a lot of Facebook, Myspace or Hi5 users unconciously assume. For those who are not very familiar with these sites, they actually acummulate a bunch of personal and private data. An average user's profile includes name, date of birth, city, apart from photos and other stuff. Others give information about their religion, marital status, personal videos... The amount of information they have collected has alarmed a lot of official authorities in more than 30 countries all over the world, which have dealed with this problematic issue in the recent 30th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy.
Moreover, I am also concerned about the need to create mechanisms for multilateral and democratic management of the Internet. This management is mainly controled by the North American, european and some Asian countries, and the income generated by those flows of communication is only in rich countries' hands. Such imbalances do nothing more than widen the gap between rich and poor in the field of information technology.
I don't want to prolong this post too much (as I understand it doesn't really deal with art and technology) but I just would like to note that “diversity” is another important matter. The vast majority of the web content is in English, and people whose languages do not use the Latin alphabet face enormous difficulties in obtaining their full inclusion in the network.