In which Jacob and I talk about Google's (and my) experience in China, why foreign tech companies will almost certainly fail there, and why China's government is slowly losing its grip over information.
Librarians + technology = a personal nirvana. There is no more awesome set of people doing more important work than the librarians and their nerd allies at the bleeding edge of library tech -- they are engaged in an underappreciated struggle to work out how mankind is going to preserve, extend, share, and democratize the sum of human knowledge in our increasingly digital age. So I was really psyched to go a do a talk at the 2012 Library Technology Conference about the technological forces driving the great policy issues of our age, along with an argument about why and where the library community should be engaged. Bonus for me: The event was at Macalester College, where I spent my high school summers taking Russian while trying to look like something other than the huge dork I was.
Here's my keynote, "Fight for the Future: Libraries, Tech Policy, and the Fate of Human Knowledge."
The Prezi is here.
This was truly an awesome display of people power.
The set-up: “From local issues like the BART protests to national and international movements like Occupy and the Arab Spring, individuals and organizations are increasingly utilizing the Internet, social networking, and mobile devices to communicate and connect. This diverse panel from academia, public interest, and private practice, will discuss the opportunities and challenges for free speech as it increasingly moves from the town square to the networked world. Co-sponsored by the California State Bar Cyberspace Committee and the Stanford Center for Internet and Society.”
Dorothy Chou Senior Policy Analyst, Google Dorothy Chou is a Senior Policy Analyst and leads Google's policy efforts to increase Transparency. She manages the day-to-day operations of the Central Public Policy team at Google's headquarters, and handles government relations for Google's Crisis Response/Disaster Relief projects as well as the Data Liberation Front. Dorothy began working for Google in the Washington, D.C. office four years ago, managing issues around China, free expression and child safety before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area last summer. Dorothy holds a B.S. in International Politics from Georgetown University's Walsh School of Foreign Service.
Linda Lye Staff Attorney, ACLU of Northern California Linda Lye joined the ACLU-NC as a staff attorney in 2010 after serving 5 years on its Board of Directors and 7 years on its Legal Committee. She was formerly a partner at Altshuler Berzon, a San Francisco law firm specializing in labor and employment law, as well as constitutional, civil rights, and environmental law. Early in her legal career, she clerked for Judge Guido Calabresi of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the United States Supreme Court. Prior to law school, she was a policy analyst for the fiscal committees of the Assembly in the California Legislature, and also worked as a death penalty investigator at the California Appellate Project. She has an undergraduate degree from Yale University and a JD from Boalt Hall, at the University of California at Berkeley.
Philip Hammer Of Counsel, Hoge Fenton Jones & Appel Philip Hammer is Of Counsel to the law firm of Hoge Fenton Jones & Appel in San Jose, California. Mr. Hammer successfully litigated the right to circulate petitions in privately owned shopping centers in the California Supreme Court (1979) and the United States Supreme Court: Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins, 447 U.S. 74 (1980).
Laurence Pulgram Partner and Chair of Commercial and Copyright Litigation Group, Fenwick and West LLP Lawrence Pulgram is a Partner in the Litigation and Intellectual Property Groups of Fenwick & West LLP, counsel in intellectual property and complex commercial disputes. His practice emphasizes technology related litigation and frequently involves novel legal issues generated by cutting-edge information technologies.
Moderator: Nicole Ozer Co-Chair- California State Bar Cyberspace Committee, Technology and Civil Liberties Policy Director, ACLU of Northern California Nicole A. Ozer is the Technology and Civil Liberties Policy Director at the ACLU of Northern California. She works on the intersection of new technology, privacy, and free speech and spearheads the organization’s online privacy campaign, Demand Your dotRights (www.dotrights.org). Nicole is the co- chair of the California State Bar Cyberspace Committee and a founding board member of the Bay Area Legal Chapter of the American Constitution Society (ACS).
The Ford Foundation has posted the video of a panel I recently joined on "[t]he possibilities and pitfalls of technology in the pursuit of human freedom." The other panelists were (the legendary and eloquent) Sir Tim Berners-Lee, (the brilliant and soon-to-be-book-launching) Rebecca MacKinnon, (the worldly and effective) Elisa Massimino, and (the multi-disciplinary and polymathical) Danny O’Brien. The moderator was (the charming and prolific) Sewell Chan, deputy editor for The New York Times. For me, the most interesting part of the panel was an exchange primarily with Elisa about the pressing need for mainstream/mainline human rights advocates and organizations to view seemingly-specialized tech issues like net neutrality, competition policy, intermediary liability, encryption policy, and user data control as core human rights issues.
Let's go to the tape.
What an incredible set of entrepreneurs.
This morning, I did an interview on the public radio show Marketplace on the techniques, effects, and implications of the Egyptian government's decision to shut down the Internet and mobile phone networks. As the write-up of the segment says:
In the wake of massive protests in Egypt, other countries have been paying attention and sometimes covering things up. The government of China is suppressing mentions of the uprising. Iran is blocking access to news sites, perhaps fearing renewed protests in their country.
That's not all that surprising. They've been filtering the Internet for a long time. What Egypt did -- yanking the Internet almost entirely offline -- that's new.
On today's show, we look at the precedent set by Egypt's decision to block most Internet and cell phone access in that country. Jonathan Zittrain joins us. He's co-founder and co-director of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society and a frequent guest on our show. Jonathan says that while Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, and other countries have means to filter the Internet, Egypt's online system has always been pretty open so when they wanted to block it, they had to go all the way.
Andrew McLaughlin also joins us. He's a former director of global public policy at Google and former deputy chief technology officer for the Obama administration. He says while it was incredibly difficult to get online within Egypt's borders, neighboring countries had no issues at all, even though in many cases, their traffic goes through Egyptian territory.
Andrew tells us that Egypt has worked hard to position itself as a trustworthy hub for underwater cable that goes through the Red Sea, connecting to nearby countries. That service has not been disrupted.
As for what this means for other countries facing similar protests, we just don't know yet since Egypt's actions were unprecedented. But as protests begin to gather in other countries (and keep in mind that Egypt's protests were fueled by the overthrow in Tunisia), it's likely more governments will need to decide what to do about the Internet.
One of my all-time heroes is Carl Malamud, rogue archivist and tireless activist for the public domain. He’s been organizing a series of conferences at law schools around the US to build the case for full, free public, online access to all elements of the laws and regulations that govern us. That sounds like an obvious goal, but it is much, much harder than you might think. Huge thanks to our host Prof. James Boyle, who leads Duke Law School’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain, and also was my (fantastic) 1L torts professor.
Here’s what happened at the Duke Law.gov conference: