Freedom or Control in Virtual Worlds
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Freedom or Control in Virtual Worlds



A presentation held in 2nd Life during my EU parliament election campaign in May 2009.

A presentation held in 2nd Life during my EU parliament election campaign in May 2009.



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    Freedom or Control in Virtual Worlds Freedom or Control in Virtual Worlds Presentation Transcript

    • Freedom or Control in Virtual Worlds
        • Jyrki J.J. Kasvi
    • Lessig: Code is law
      • Tecnhology defines, what we can and cannot do
        • Law defines what we must and what we must not do
      • People do not understand that ICT is high politics
        • ICT and information society are still considered mainly technological questions by policy makers
        • Decisions made now define information society as concretely as railroad, electrical network and social security system defined Finnish industrial society
      • Legislative process is way slower than technological development
        • The Finnish modem high jacking law
    • Brave new culture
      • Technologies have built in values that direct the change!
        • E.g. where were the first versions of Internet core protocols programmed?
        • Those hippies are still shaping our societies to their own image
      • Interactive participative media create new social cultures
        • SMS, P2P, Wiki, PodCasts, Social networks, Blogsphere
        • Freedom to select and choose, freedom to create and publish
        • Freedom to create totally new kinds of communities
      • Net culture has been overlooked by press and politicians
        • A whole Finnish generation found its way to Habbo and IRC gallery without being noticed
        • More than 100.000 Finns played poker in the web before authories woke up
    • New communities and communalism
      • Traditional social networks become closer
        • ” Mobile tribes” are constantly online, communicating
        • Virtual societies weaken the meaning of time and place (facebook, LinkedIn)‏
        • The concept of privacy is changing as we distribute private information to our networks (twitter, flicker, …)‏
      • New global social networks spread around the world
        • Global network cultures of like minded people, sharing the same values and interests and interacting in the Web (Open source movement, Greenpeace, Al Qaida)‏
        • National borders lose their meaning as social barriers (Habbo, 2nd Life)
      • Civil rights and freedoms have to be rediscussed and redefined
      • Now it is too easy to chip civil rights away one by one
      • E.g. the Finnish national information society strategy (2007-2015) does not mention civil rights at all
    • The fear factor
      • Totalitarian goverments fear the anarchistic freedom of virtual worlds
        • A single meme disguised as a text message can bring down a government
        • Chinese government was shocked by the internet network of falung gong activists
      • The real motivation of demands for control of Internet?
        • Child protection or moralistic condemnation?
        • Security concerns and Internet crime of political control and commercial interests?
      • Is Internet access a privilege or a right ?
        • Is government responsible for providing Internet access?
          • (Finnish highest administrative court: yes)
        • Can access to Internet be cut as a punishment?
          • (French government: yes)
    • Virtual democracy and security
      • Democracy = privacy & freedom of expression
        • Ability to get information and express opinions without fear of retribution – even in the web
        • e.g. the Finnish Constitution 100 years ago, when censorship of critical papers lead to civil unrest and political terrorism.
      • Security and economic concerns challenge civil rights
        • No central control is possible in a networked world (of course there is the Chinese way – 30.000+ net police)‏
      • Legislation comes from a past of hierarchic simplex media
        • E.g. are service providers responsible for their clients’ web pages and discussions?
      • Control encourages counter culture
        • The Finnish “video law” inspired the most sophisticated splatter culture in the world, based on a huge number of smuggled and copied ultra violent video tapes
    • IRL vs. I2L
      • ” Unabomber” terrorised U.S. for 18 years, killing 3 and wounding 29 with his letter bombs.
      • No-one suggested that we should collect data about our mail traffic in order to make such terrorist campaigns impossible.
    • Child protection in virtual worlds
      • Most of the concerns of politicians and interest groups focus on protection of children
        • Why do we not trust their parents to do their job?
      • Children have always adopted new media first
        • Poetry, novels, theatre, comics, movies, ???music, television, videos, video games, virtual worlds
        • And always there has been a public uproar
      • Teenagers have a right for privacy too!
        • How to find information about contraceptives, drugs, sexual orientations or depression if Internet use is constantly monitored?
      • Virtual social networks are an elemental part of generation identity and youth culture
        • Parents are not told about problems encountered
        • Control leads to counter culture
    • Of course, children need protection but first and foremost grownups 11.5.2009
      • Have you told your kids what to do when someone suggests cybering?
      • In China , authorities maintain a list of subjects to filter from Chinese Internet users
        • The list spreads fast to Chinese Internet users
        • The government actually informs the activists
      • In South Korea , there was no independent media before year 2000
        • Oh-My-News allowed people to become journalists
        • The government changed in the 2002 elections and the new president gave his first interview to Oh-My-News
      • In Germany , yellow press became corrupted
        • open forum exposes errors, lies, tastelessness etc. of Bild-Zeitung
        • Now has expanded to cover other German media as well
      Counter culture 11.5.2009
    • Preventive censorship
      • We do not tolerate preventive censorship in real life,
      • why should we accept it in virtual realities?
      • Filtering of web content does not, cannot work,
        • Gives only a false, bought sense of security
      • Outsourcing of censorship to filtering companies
        • Can a private company violate freedom of expression?
        • Filtering systems are closed trade secrets without public control
      • Censorship always expands to new subjects
        • Child pornography => gambling services & Internet pharmacies
      • Even the best laid plans can backfire
        • The child pornography filters in use only make it easier for pedophiles to find child pornography
      • Those who are willing to give up an essential liberty for safety do not deserve either safety nor freedom. - Benjamin Franklin
    • Sukupuolten välinen digikuilu? 11.5.2009 Discussion U.S. Army Photo