Monday, July 14, 2008

The i9/11 and the iPATRIOT Act

Excellent, excellent talk on the future of the internet with some very smart people. Jonathan Zittrain: Author of "The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It" (available free here). Lawrence Lessig: Lawyer and author of dozens of books about free culture, recently having switched from talking about copyright specifically to a more broad range of IT and government corruption issues. Vin Cerf: He basically invented the internet with two other guys. No, really. Currently he is Google's chief internet evangelical (that is his real job title). The whole video is good, but the thing that stands out the most is a comment made by Lessig - the PATRIOT Act wasn't written really quickly in the wake of 9/11, it was sitting in a desk drawer waiting for the opportunity to be passed by a frantic legislature. He asked Richard Clarke, former chief counterterrorism advisor to numerous presidents, if a version of the PATRIOT Act for the internet was waiting for some kind of major internet-based attack which could be compared to 9/11 in terms of disruption and financial loss. Clarke said that, without question, there was. The heart of the problem is our national infrastructure is based on a system that our representatives are largely entirely ignorant of. Here is Senator Ted Stevens demonstrating such ignorance. Here is John McCain admitted to not knowing how to use a computer, much less the internet. None of this would be a problem, except these are the kind of people that can (at least attempt) to legislate internet activity in the country. And when some major incident occurs, which is inevitable due to the open nature of the internet, they may kill the largest and most important communication/content/distribution instrument ever conceived by humankind.

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