Freedom or Control in Virtual Worlds


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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

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