Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Is the cyberspace going to contract?

Quite a while ago--before the Punic Wars in fact--the first clunky computers were introduced. Unlike today's PCs, they had little memory and had to be linked with a mainframe at a bricks-and-mortar location. The possibility of controlling these mainframes suggested to some that computers might actually facilitate the extension of statist control of our lives.

Not long after, though, we learned that the Soviet Union (a najor candidate for this role of social control by technology) was not in fact cybercompatible. Since then a wonderful anarchy has arisen in the world of cyberspace.

Along with many others I rejoiced at the recent revelations provided by Wikileaks, pouring a welcome light on the formerly private conversations conducted by our Masters. Every action, though, begets a counteraction. It is not certain whether the US government will succeed in prosecuting Julian Assange. I hope not. However, the authorities are taking action to secure their data bases. There is also a growing chorus of demand for supervision of the Internet.

During the last decade the fallout from 9/11 offered a golden opportunity for statist nannies and control freaks of every sort. It may be that Wikileaks will provide a similar pretext. It all depends on whether we fight back. With my recent experiences with airport security, where arbitrary social control is constantly increasing, I am not too confident that freedom will prevail.



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