Tag Archives: democracy

Code Is Not Speech

code is speech

Brief version Advocates understand the idea that “code is speech” to create an impenetrable legal shield around anything built of programming code. When they do this they misunderstand, or misrepresent, free speech law (and rights law in general), which rarely creates such impenetrable shields, the principles that underlie that law, and the ways those principles […]

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Tor, Technocracy, Democracy

freedom is slavery

As important as the technical issues regarding Tor are, at least as important—probably more important—is the political worldview that Tor promotes (as do other projects like it). While it is useful and relevant to talk about formations that capture large parts of the Tor community, like “geek culture” and “cypherpunks” and libertarianism and anarchism, one […]

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‘Permissionless Innovation’: Using Technology to Dismantle the Republic

polluted WV water

There may be no more pernicious and dishonest doctrine among Silicon Valley’s avatars than the one they call “permissionless innovation.” The phrase entails the view that entrepreneurs and “innovators” are the lifeblood of society, and must be allowed to push forward without needing to ask for “permission” from government, for the good of society. The […]

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Paper: ‘Commercial Trolling: Social Media and the Corporate Deformation of Democracy’

commercial troller

I wrote this essay for a collection that originally said it could handle pieces of this length, but in the end decided not to. It’s a bit long for traditional journals or edited collections, and it’s about some fairly immediate stuff that’s also connected to other work I’ve been writing lately, so I decided simply […]

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Interview: The ‘Sharing’ Hype

From “The ‘Sharing’ Hype,” an interview published today at In These Times conducted by Rebecca Burns with me, Neal Gorenflo, co-founder and publisher of Shareable Magazine, and the SolidarityNYC collective, which supports the growth of cooperatives in New York City. “Sharing” can be seen as a form of resistance to the capitalist economy. But the “sharing […]

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Interview: On Hacking, Decentralization, Power, Digital Democracy

A few excerpts from an interview at Dichtung Digital: Journal für Kunst und Kultur digitaler Medien, with questions asked by Roberto Simanowski. My least favorite digital neologism is “hacker.” The word has so many meanings, and yet it is routinely used as if its meaning was unambiguous. Wikipedia has dozens of pages devoted to the […]

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Opt-Out Citizenship: End-to-End Encryption and Constitutional Governance

Silk Road

Among the digital elite, one of the more common reactions to the recent shocking disclosures about intelligence surveillance programs has been to suggest that the way to prevent government snooping is to encrypt all of our communications. While I think encryption might be an important part of a solution to the total surveillance problem, it […]

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Centralization and the ‘Democratization’ of Higher Education

amazon central

In my previous post, “Computerization, Centralization, and Concentration,” I discussed how the fact that decentralization and distribution are genuine hallmarks of the networked computerization revolution can easily blind us to the fact that centralization and concentration, especially of economic power, are also its hallmarks, in many cases even more strongly than are the former. One […]

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‘We Need to Educate Them’: Cyberlibertarianism, Democracy, and Information Freedom

Last Tuesday–not coincidentally, on some accounts, September 11–US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was killed following an attack on the US Embassy to Libya in Benghazi. The attack, followed by others and by widespread protests against US and other Western diplomatic missions in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East, is purported to have been […]

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“They Called It the ‘Twitter Revolution'”

A nice retrospective of new technology in recent Iranian politics on the BBC this week was advertised on radio in triumphalist terms, evidenced in the story’s first and second sentences. Follow the story to its end, though, and discover that it’s the repressive and invasive powers of computers that are most apparent, while the democratic […]

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