John D Radcliff, Specializing in Interactive Technology & Education!

Laws and the internet in Libya

        The middle east has several first and second generation measures to regulate internet access and online activities.  This includes laws and regulations, technical filtering, physical restrictions, surveillance and monitoring, and harassment and arrests.  There are alot of laws and regulations used to control access which include laws that start with press and publications all the way to Internet and ISP rules and regulations.  Ghadafi used several of these methods to try and suppress the anti government protests that broke out in Libya.  He threatened to lock people up if they were caught using Facebook to post anti government remarks.  He shutdown cellular and internet access through out the country.  All of his actions are from laws that are prominent in other Middle East and North African countries who all share the same view of controlling internet content which is seen as insulting or offensive.  Here is one example of a current law in Kuwait: "Kuwait's 2006 press law allows the imprisonment of journalists for making references to Islam that are deemed insulting or for articles seen as "against national interests" (Access Controlled, p. 526)."

        According to the laws setup in the middle east, Ghadafi has every right in arresting people and shutting down the internet in order to protect "national interests" in Libya.  I agree with having laws and filters in place to regulate certain content if it is going to pose a threat or harm someone else.  For example, if there is a website that is promoting a terrorist attack on the Libyan government then I think the government has every right in taking action against the site and its owners.  The problem with this is what is considered unlawful in the eyes of the Libyan government?  Also, why filter the internet to the point of limiting a person's freedom of speech or expression in Libya?  Does limiting the access to certain online content, shutting down the internet and arresting people for posting anti government information going to stop the uprising in Libya?

        Currently Libya is in a state of turmoil.  Rebel forces in cities across Libya are starting a revolution against Ghadafi and the current Libyan government.  Ghadafi has retaliated by using the Libyan military to wage a war against his own people.  It may seem strange to wage a war against one's own cititzens until we look at the laws, policies and structures in place which allow for these actions.  So in the eyes of Ghadafi this could be deemed as a disruption to the state and he is acting with "national interests" in mind.  This  does not have anything to do with the rules and regulations of content being filtered or blocked on the internet in Libya.  But it does point to how the people in Libya are being treated and why they are being treated this way.  Since Libya is a authoritarian government the people's rights and freedom of expression will be hampered no matter what they do in this country.


        These kind of laws can stifle Libya's economy and which we have seen can lead to a revolution.  If people are stifled online then this can have a government start to take away freedoms in real space as well.  In the reading I found that countries in the middle east like Libya are blocking sites for political campaigning and social activism.  Of course the people in these countries are asking that these restrictions be lifted.  Of course these countries are not going to lift these restrictions since they know that the internet is associated with voice and power.  Ghadafi understands this and that is why he has not lifted restrictions on the net or changed any of the laws in his country.  The worst part about this is that U.S. companies are helping to provide these technological restrictions for these countries so that they can make a profit.  It is a shame that content filtering companies do not have a conscience or a concerns about the issues going on in these countries.  I think if they did it would have a big impact on how these countries would go about filtering their internet content.

        A balance of laws and content filtering must be reached if the middle east along with Libya want to keep peace in their countries.  If not, then these governments will continue to experience turmoil and uprisings.

What the Libyan government could learn from the internet

        The internet cannot be controlled by laws or threats that are made by governments.  Take the quote from Code 2.0 by Lawrence Lessig, "The claim for cyberspace was not just that government would not regulate cyberspace – it was that government could not regulate cyberspace.  Cyberspace was, by nature, unavoidably free.  Governments could threaten, but behavior could not be controlled; laws could be passed, but they would have no real effect (Code 2.0, p. 3)."

        Ghadafi has made claims that he ‘will crush’ anyone who plots against him and if he catches anyone using Facebook, he will have them imprisoned.  He has gone so far as to shutdown the internet and cell phone communications in an attempt to stop the transmission of the revolution infection.  The threats can be made and yet even as Ghadafi shuts down the internet in Libya he still cannot control the code which is still broadcasting anti Ghadafi messages. 


        Even with the attempt to shut off communications other companies like Google have provided speak to tweet and dial up numbers so that people can still communicate even though Ghadafi has cut off communications.  So can a government leader stop the spread of dissent on Facebook by making threats of locking up Libyan citizens for posting anti Ghadafi messages on Facebook?  Or can his futel attempts to shut off communications really have an effect on controlling the code?  The only way Ghadafi could make an impact on the net is if he would hire a group of hackers to create computer code or launch DOS attacks that could shutdown Libyan based Facebook and Twitter pages.  Even if he locks up Libyan citizens for using Facebook (whether true or not) what difference would this make in stopping the spread of the anti Ghadafi message through out the net? 

        The solution to this problem is right in front of him.  Instead of trying to shut off or destroy the flow of information coming in and out of Libya, he can embrace it.  He could learn more about what is going on in and outside of his country by monitoring communications.  For example, he could setup a team of people to look at the different posts online about his country and learn from what is being posted online.  Then he could use this information to manipulate the network to his advantage or to find the location of rebels or protests.  The more information that is broadcasted online the easier it is to monitor people's conversations or locations. 

        For example, people use Twitter or Facebook to broadcast where they are by using their cell phone.  I found the following tweet when searching for the keyword #Libya on Twitter:  @ShababLibya: I would continue to urge all media to head to Sallum in #Egypt, we can provide people in #Benghazi and all East #Libya #Feb17.  If we exam the tweet, we can see that @ShababLibya could be informing the media people in Egypt to head to the city of Sallum in Egypt to provide the people in Benghazi and all East Libya Freedom.  The #Feb17 keyword is a website for the Libyan Youth Movement which is promoting freedom, democracy and change.  So this tweet could be code for an organization of media sources to congregate move to the city of Sallum to provide freedom for the people in Libya.  Now if Ghadafi has not suppressed the internet and is paying attention to these forms of communication online then he could be learning alot about this particular tweet.  If he knew the code, maybe he could plan to watch the border of Egypt near Sallum to watch where these media sources (journalists) are moving to in order to capture them or to broadcast an anti revolution message in the network.  He could also try to shutdown the website by using a team of hackers to launch a DOS attack on the site.  Since the Libyan government seems to not be interested in this, then it will continue to be foreign or code to them. 
        So trying to control the revolution conversation is hard when the way this conversation is being spread is not clear.  This conversation has followed a non linear path and has the whole world watching due to the internet and broadcast media.  The question now is what happens next and what role will the code continue to have an effect on Libya.  Clearly it has helped spread the message of the revolution in Libya and has caused the Libyan government to shut off the internet including other forms of communication.  So can the code be controlled or is it just an uncontrollable force that governments will have to deal with?

What would happen if the people in Libya had free speech?

        "Hence, then, is a large lesson about the relationship between a well-functioning  system of free expression and citizen's well-being.  Free speech and free press are not mere luxuries or tastes of the most educated classes; they increase the like-lihood that government will actually be serving people's interests ( 2.0, p. 98)."  The above quote taken from the reading of the book Republic 2.0 shows us why there is unrest in Libya.  For example, Muhammad Bouazizi set himself on fire in an act to protest against high living costs and joblessness in Tunisia.  Then, in Cairo Egypt, a demonstration broke out over high food price inflation, high unemployment, corruption, etc.  Now there are demonstrations taking place in Libya.  Libya has an unemployment rate of 30% along with the problems of health issues and poverty.  As the above quote states, all of this revolves around the issues of freedom of speech and the standard of living costs for citizen's in these arab nation states. 

Libya Unemployment

        The main question is "What happens after people get their freedom and over throw the pre existing tyrannical leaders?"  Egypt right now has removed president Mabarak and most of the people in the government who supported.  The military is now in place to keep the country functional until a new civilian government can be elected.  This is not the case in Libya.  If people were to overthrow Gadaffi, then who would step up to take his place?  Would the current military be able to govern the country temporarily?  Or would another radical group or tyrannical leader take over? 

        According to Najla Abdurrahman, a Libyan-American writer and activist, writes, "After all, Libya lacks political institutions which means it could descend into years of bloody civil war. And Libya is full of Muslims so Islamic extremists could take control of a new government and further destabilise the Arab world.  Do Libyans even realise where they're headed? Have they forgotten about Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq? Gaddafi is admittedly unpleasant, even brutal, but he has held the country together and kept extremists at bay for decades (Libya: Making something out of nothing, Aljazeera)."

        According to the above author, if Gaddafi were to be overthrown, Libya would be in disarray and possibly be taken over by Islamic extremists.  So if the anti Gaddafi supporters had Gaddafi removed from office, would a radical group or dictator step into power and still keep the people of Libya oppressed?  The problem is this could be a possibility considering the issue of extremist groups within the Islamic communities.  If we look back at the beginning of this blog, I took a quote from Cass R Sunstein's Republic 2.0 which stated that "Free speech and free press are not mere luxuries or tastes of the most educated classes; they increase the like-lihood that government will actually be serving people's interests".  The people's interests will not be served if a ruler or group comes into power who will still oppress the Libyan people.  If the issues of poverty and joblessness are not fixed then the people will still continue to suffer.  Cass R. Sunstein is very optimistic that if the freedom of speech and freedom of press are achieved then the government will serve the people's needs.  This could have the opposite effect in Libya in that with the people achieving freedom without a structured plan to rebuild, could fall prey to a more oppressive regime or according to Najila "descend into years of bloody civil war".  The question is, "will overthrowing Gaddafi give the people what they really want?" 


        The leaders in these arab countries need to listen to what the people want and make sure people have what is needed to sustain themselves in their daily lives.  If people do not have their basic needs meet, then revolutions will continue to take place.  When the government starts to suppress or cut off cell phone and internet communication services in response to these demonstrations, then this just adds to the suppression of the people's freedom of speech.  If the mentioned arabic countries do not resolve the issues of their people, then they will continue to face uprisings in the name of freedom and democracy.

Governments and the internet

        Even though the internet does not stop bombs or regimes, it is interesting how countries now stop the internet and or cell phone service in a country when a demonstration or revolution takes place.  For example, the Libyan government, who owns the cell phone and internet service provider companies, shut off these services during the protests.  This is the same action that the Egyptian government tried to do which only incited the protestors.  Eventually the internet was successful in forcing President Hosni Mubarak out of power and it did so by putting alot of outside pressure on the Egyptian Government.

        So, is it true to think that the internet can topple a government?  This was not the case in Iran.  "But while the manic surrounding the manic Iran's Twitter Revolution helped to crystallize the main tenets of the doctrine, it did not beget those tenets ( The Net Delusion, p. 6)."  The Green movement, a group in favor of the opposing presidential canidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, used social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook to help spread the word about their upset and corruption of the 2009 Iranian elections.  Even though social networking was used in Iran it was not effective in over throwing the corrupt government.  After the protests subsided, the Iranian government used the internet against the Green Movement.

        "Passport control officers at Tehran's airport asked Iranians living abroad if they had Facebook accounts; they would often double-check online, reagardless of the answer, and proceed to write down amy suspicious-looking online friends a traveler might have (The Net Delusion, p.11)." 
The Iranian government then came out with a statement that if people were caught with anti government based information on their Twitter or Facebook page's that they would be arrested and tried by the Judiciary. 


Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan president, has warned against the use of Facebook and 's security forces have arrested activists who've posted online about the Libyan revolution. 

        Out of the Iran revolution only a small percentage of people were using Twitter.  "98 percent of the most popular links shared on the site during that period were Iran-related.  It's just that the vast majority of them were not authored or retweeted by those in Iran" (The Net Delusion, p. 15 ).  According to Vahid Online, a prominent Iranian blogger and activist, said that many were led to believe falsely that Iranian people were also getting their news through Twitter."

        So if the number of people protesting online inside a country are a very few percentage and if the Iranian government was not toppled, then why has Libya for example shutdown the internet and arrested activists for anti government content on Facebook?  We could look at what is being transmitted but the real answer here is that the internet is causing external pressure from the mass media which is causing internal pressure in Libya.  Gaddafi is afraid of excessive pressure from outside forces and being toppled as what happened to President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.  So shutting down the internet and cell phone service from the Libyan government standpoint seems like part of the solution in quieting the news propaganda.


        "Bizarrely, the irresponsible Iran-related punditry in Washington allowed leaders in Beijing to build credible case for more internet censorship in China (The Net Delusion, p.13)." "On the contrary, most often it's just unthinking acceptance of conventional wisdom, which posits that since authoritarian governments are censoring the Internet, they must be really afraid of it.  Thus, according to this view, the very presence of a vibrant Internet culture greatly increases the odds that such regimes will collapse (The Net Delusion, p.21)."

        It is not that the internet is a weapon against tyranical regims and the promotion of Democracy, it is a way of spreading information.  Even if the information is not true, the damage can already be done once the information is distributed on the internet.  Since anything can be created and distributed on the internet, this is why the internet can be labeled as the perfect propaganda medium that any group, country, or person can use to spread it's message. 

        If Gandafi wants to react by shutting down the internet and making claims that social media is an imperliast conspiracy then let him.  It is just him reacting to the wide spread reach and power of the internet.  In the end, it is humerous how some countries will bad mouth the internet and yet at the same time use it to forward their own agendas! 

Controlling the Flow of Information in Libya

        “Control is not simply manipulation, but rather modulation.  One does not simply control a device, a situation, or a group of people; rather, “control” is what enables a relation to a device, a situation, or a group.  “People are lines,” Deluze suggests.  As lines, people thread together social, political, and cultural elements (The Exploit by Alexander Galloway and Eugene Thacker, p. 35)."

        The first part of this quote examines how control is not manipulation, rather it is modulation and that we do not directly control an object but rather the connection we make to a particular object.  We can look at how Ghadaffi, Libya's ruler, emulates this example of modulation.   The internet was shutdown in Libya to control the flow of information and cool the political temperature in Libya.  According to, "Gaddafi warned against the use of Facebook where groups have formed calling for economic and political reforms.  Gaddfai's security forces have arrested activists who've posted online about the revolution."  This is a perfect example of how the Libyan government is working on controlling the internet in Libya. 

        Yet despite the governments efforts, information about the events in Libya are still getting transmitted to different online venues through the internet.  According to, "there are a number of alternatives being shared on Twitter for Libyans to get online, such as a free dial-up account provided by organizations in Europe.  XS4ALL, a "hacker-friendly" Internet service provider based in the Netherlands, opened up its modem lines for free during the previous curfew, but there had been no activity from Libya on the account, XS4ALL’s Niels Huijbregts told eWEEK."
So there are outside resources that are allowing the people inside Libya to connect to the internet so that information about the events in Libya can still get out on the internet. 


        So Ghadaffi may have stifled or caused the flow of information to be routed but has he completely shut off or disrupted the flow of information?  According to some journalists it looks like cell phone access was still working several weeks ago despite the Libyan government shutting off internet access and owning the two mobile phone operators in the country.  We can also see that this has still not disrupted the "lines" of communication in the network like what Ghadaffi was hoping to accomplish.  He managed to shutdown the main nodes which control internet access and arrested some bloggers posting an anti Ghadaffi message online, yet he has failed to completely take down the network of conversations or people involved.  This is because it is the network of people not the nodes that keep information flowing.

        If Ghadaffi wanted to completely control the flow of information he would need to remove the key people involved in the networking spreading the information on the internet.  The conversation then spreads through the network were other people pickup the conversation and then pass it along.  The Libyan government trying to shut off access or stop the modulating signal of information is one level of control and the people in the network passing the conversation along is another form of modulation or control of the flow of information.  If the information is stopped at one point or a node is destroyed, then information can still pass through other functioning nodes or networks. 


        No matter how or who tries to control the flow of information, there are still other ways for information to spread as long as the key ties in the network are still functioning.  This is just like a virus spreading if it affects one place or person it can spread to others instantly even if part of the virus is contained.  For example, if we look at @ShababLibya on Twitter this is a Libyan movement inside and outside of Libya which also has a Facebook Page associated with the movement.  We can see that since predefined connections and sites have been established that the flow of information can still exist.  Other resources can be used and if predefined alternative methods of communication have been established (dial-up, cellular, radio communications, etc.) then information can still get out through these alternative channels. 

        Can the flow of information be stopped even though one area of the network has been shut off?  From what we have seen predefined channels and connections are hard to break or destroy once once they are established.  In the end, even if the flow of information is interrupted or changed, this flow can be rerouted using other channels or resources.

Are your habits and actions being watched?

        Hasan Elahi was stopped and questioned by Homeland Security when flying back to the United States from a Transience Project.  The reason for his detention was "suspicious movement after 9/11." and he was labeled as a suspected terrorist.  Data on Hasan, like his cell phone records, were anonymized which made his whereabouts unknown which is what had him detained by Homeland Security.  Since Hasan has been tracking his own movements for several years now, he could provide records of his whereabouts to the authorities which prompted his release.


        A predictive algorithm, developed from MIT was used on Hasan's data which failed to predict his movements making him fully unpredictable.  So does this mean that suspicious equals unpredictable?  If a person is unpredictable in there movements then is this an accurate way to determine if someone could be a possible terrorist or threat?  In the MIT study 93 percent predictability was found on all of the test subjects and only 7 percent of the time were a person's wereabouts a mystery.  Based on this study, the predictability of a person's movement is preferred, if not then it can lead to problems as in the example of Hasan and his encounter with Homeland security.

        So is monitoring people's cell phone, debit/credit card activity, and traveling activities a more efficient way to profile people?  We are tracked everytime we use these products so our whereabouts are constantly being transmitted.  So if someone does not conform to leaving a digital trail by using a cell phone or debit/credit card does this automatically make a person a terrorist and is this a just assumption?  What about a persons right to privacy or is this necessary in the war against terrorism?

Blazing new digital trail_large

        People have the right to try and keep their life as private as possible.  From Homeland security's reasoning if people and their habits are predictable then they are not considered a terrorist.  We should look closely at people's habits but not to the point of scrutinizing people due to not leaving a digital trail.  For example, if Hasan does not use a cell phone or credit cards to keep his whereabouts unknown, then this should acceptable.  Instead of interrogating the man to find out if he is a terrorist which I think violates his basic rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

        Homeland Securities actions do not surprise me since monitoring strange or no habits on a person is the algorithm that most government agencies use.  The same algorithm works with credit card companies who alert cardholders of unusual spending activity which is compared against a person's normal spending history.  I think Hasan is an important example and shows that Homeland Security made a mistake by analyzing his habits or non habits in the network.  Since he showed up as an anomaly, this was a red flag which triggered Homeland Security to stop and interrogate him.  Obviously he is not a terrorist and at the same time this questions the validity of the predictive algorithm.  It could be that this was an isolated incident since the algorithm shows that only 7 percent of the time is a person's whereabouts a mystery. 

        Liberty and False Comparisons, an online article published by James Joyner reflects these times of change:  "The conservative, torture-friendlyWashington Times, declared that “a balance must be struck between reasonable security measures and the maintenance of a free society.” Abu Ghraib was a fraternity prank, but getting frisked at the airport is a sign of, to quote the Times, “Big Sister’s police state.” (Outside The Beltway,  If the predictive algorithm was used before people entered an airport, then the need to screen everyone before they enter an airplane could be decreased. 

        The predictive algorithm is an important endeavor for studying people's habits and even though there is a margin of error, the algorithm is still necessary in protecting national security.  It is easier to justify searching or questioning someone who has unusual habits then it is to stop someone based on their race or religion.  This way an entity like Homeland Security can justify stopping, searching and questioning someone based on their habits and avoid backlash since they did not profile someone based on race or religion.  This form of tracking dangerous individuals is a big step forward in keeping people safe and minimizing the violation of people's rights.  There will always be flaws or margins of error which will be hard to account for and it is in the best interest of the nation state to protect its people in the most efficient way possible.

Censorship of the future

        How can we predict the future?  If we try to control the media as proposed by premediation then isn't this considered a form of censorship?  Why do we need premediaiton to protect us from unknown acts of violence or indecency?
       The movie indusry is a perfect example of the use of premediation strategies.  For example, movies rated PG-13 or Rated "R" state may contain graphic scenes of violence or other indecent acts.  How do they really know that the acts in a film are indecent?  Even though this system determines whether a film is suitable for certain aged audiences, ultimately it is up to the viewer whether or not they want to see a certain film.  Does this play into influencing the viewer into seeing a film or not based on its rating?  If there was not a rating system, then people would see a film based on other factors (storyline, actors, movie reviews, etc.) and not a censorship mechanism influencing their decision. 


        For example, if I want to see the movie "The King's Speech", which is rated R and I am 13 years old, then I would need someone who is at least 18 years old to come with me to see the movie.  If I want to see the movie on my own, then I cannot do this since I am not old enough to do so.  This then influences the movie producers to take out certain scenes or to rewrite scripts based on what kind of audience they want to show the movie too.  So now the movie producers are influenced to sell more movie tickets at the opening weekend of their movie and will modify the movie based on this censorship movie rating mechanism. 
        This way if a 13 year old wants to see the movie "The Kings Speech" and the rating is PG-13 instead of R, then this will possibly influence more people to see this movie.  This is a perfect example of premediation at work were future events, more movie sales, are predicted if a producer censors a movie a certain way.  Then if there was not a rating system in place people from all age groups could see a movie in theaters regardless of the rating on the movie.  

        "The logic of premediation seeks to prevent an unforseen future by proliferating its remediation by current media forms (Premediation, affect and mediality after 9/11, p. 57)."
We base our predictions of the unforseen future by past events.  So now the media plays on 9/11 by keeping everyone on high alert of an unforseen attack by an enemy that may or may not exist.  True that the future is untold and based on choices we make in the present.  So why try to influence the future by advertising thoughts of a preemtive attack that may or may not happen?  I believe this is the nature of human beings and like metioned earlier in this book "concerned the desire to premediate the geopolitical future so thoroughly that the American public would be protected from experiencing a catastrophic event" is used by the U.S. news media to influence a certain view on the public as a whole to reasure people of the danger and try to protect them by using media.  It should be mentioned that using media to predict the future could be seen as a form of censorship and biasis to protect the populous at large. 

        The Homeland Security Advisory System is another system desinged to guide protective measures when specific information to a particular sector or region is received.  This has an influence on how people will travel or not based on this rating system.  If this system was not in place, then how would we be affected as a nation?


        "Precrime is explained in relation to the idea of prediciton, of a future determined by the sequence of past events (Premediation, affect and mediality after 9/11, p. 59)." 
Precrime is taken from the movie "Minority Report" which has 3 psychic people who can see future murders take place and are used to prevent them.  It suggests that if past events occur, then the murder will take place.  The problem with this is if past events take place and giving people the choice of certain outcomes so that they can try to stop the event from happening.  This the question with premediation as described in the movie which is if we have choices layed out in front of us, based on past events, then will knowing this change our behavior?  I see this as a form of censorship since the future has not happened yet and we assume a person is going to commit an act of murder based on a prediction from a past event or a vision of future events.  This is what Tom Cruisies character, John Anderton, is trying to fight against since the psychics predict that his character is going to kill someone.  He then finds out that this event is a setup and tries to prevent this event from happening.

        "Of course medial desire is not always fulfilled, and the strategies of premediation are not always successful (Premediation, affect and mediality after 9/11, p. 62)." 
This is true in that premediation is a prediciton of future events to come based on past events.  It is true that there can be pros and cons in using the strategies of premediation.  The question to ask about this quote would not be in the realm of successful or unsuccessful, but rather why use premediation at all?  This still comes down to can we predict certain events from happening or not based on information we gather, or should we let natural selections of choice determine outcomes of the future?

What is the future of trying control and regulate digital media on the internet?

        According to Digital Media and Democracy, "In many ways these pressures to regulate the internet reflect the natural maturation process that previous media, such as print, radio, and television, all experienced as they evolved out of unrestrained and experimental to tightly controlled and regulated environments."  The internet use to be like the wild west with no rules or regulations a place where anything goes.  Since 9/11, there have been alot of regulations put in place to monitor and control the flow of information on the internet. 

        The Patriot Act, enables law enforcement officials to intercept the communications of computer trespassers and improves their ability to track computer trespasser activities.  The problem with this is the invasion of privacy by law enforcement officals and what do they deem as "trespasser activities"?  Then there is a group called ONI, (Open Net Initiative) who investigates and provides a comprehensive picture of internet content filtering in a particular country.  Oni then produces reports which it gives to different countries around the world.  This is a good and bad thing for censoring content online.  Good in that it can help control and stop the access of information on sexual exploitation of children or "extremist" Web sites.  Bad in that it can stifle or taint the flow of information. 

        Let's take for example the country Pakistan, who started by filtering access to websites containing imagery offensive to Islam and now targets content related to Balochistan independence.  Is this really right to censor this type of material?  People should have the right to have access to almost any type of material they want.  It should not matter if it is offensive to a certain religious groups (I think most countries should start practicing freedom of religion).  I do agree that any site exploiting children should be taken off of the net with the exception of "extremist" websites which should be monitored, not taken down or filtered out.  Each nation state have different views on what kind of content they find offensive and select what they want to filter out.  Once again, I think anything pro human rights should be allowed.


         Certain websites, like Youtube regulate themselves and only allow appropriate content.  They do not allow nudity or the uploading of bands music which violates copyright laws.  I don't agree with the uploading of music and if you want nude videos then people should go to a different website.  Since Youtube, which is owned by Google, has the right to filter content uploaded to their site since they are a private company.  I agree and disagree on the uploading of music videos from bands since it can be a copyright issue on the one hand, except if you are trying to do viral marketing for a band.  Since online marketing and promoting is going this direction I think an exception can be made for band's music videos. 

        "Perhaps of most concern are measures taken to protect intellectual property and copyright through technical means; In particular through the introduction of codes built into the software and hardware that structure permissible communications. (Digital Media and Democracy, p.142)"
In the realm of software, putting controls on software and profits have actually hurt different companies.  For example, let's take peer to peer network (P2P), like bear share or Bit Torrent.  People want software at a cheap price or for free.  Who wants to pay $200 to $1,000 dollars for the latest Photoshop or Microsoft Office software?  Look at the music industry who tried to shutdown Napster and in doing so created a whole new market which is costing them billions.  Now different websites will legally take music and have people download a song for a fraction of buying the physical album. 

        Companies have started to realize that making a big sale is not as profitable as making micro transactions every month.  The answer to this has been software as a service, were people pay a low monthly fee to use a companies software.  An example of this is Microsoft's Office 365 which allows a company or person to have access to Microsoft Office applications.  Then you take Google Docs which has free online office applications just like microsoft office.  People are less likely to steal a piece of software if you create a price point that is lower then the physical software disc you would buy at a store.  This is the shift companies have made when it comes to controlling or censoring what kind of software people can have access too.  Some companies are starting to embrace the free or low price model.  If more companies would embrace this model then the need to worry about restrictions or loss of profits through theft would be greatly reduced.

        So is censorship a form of control that governments and corporations impose on the internet as a response to create balance on the net?  This question is hard to answer considering free speech activists who say that any form of censorship or restrictive access online imposed from a government or corporation is a violation of a person's right to have free speech online.  Are companies and governments acting in the interest of protecting people's freedoms and rights online or are they wanting to gather data on what people are doing?  The free speech activists say that censorship is a form of ease dropping and a control mechanism to snoop on people's activities.  The corporations and governments say we are protecting your freedoms and companies state that they are protecting their profits.


        Companies, people, and governments each have a valid argument on controlling and regulating digital media on the internet.  The new innovations and technologies that are constantly being developed will ultimately determine how and why they are censored or regulated.

Can companies and governments control free?

        In the words of Marshall McLuhan "media effects are new environments as imperceptible as water to fish" (1969, 22).  If anything, technology is more like a country or an environment: it just is the space or medium we occupy.  Both of these quotes from Mark Poster's essay "Cyberdemocracy" point to how media and digital products are all around us blasting messages to us all the time. 

School of fish

        The internet is part of this example since it is the medium or network which is helping to keep people submerged and stimulated in this digital world.  It is allowing media and digital products to be distributed in our world just like Marshall McLuhan says, we are swimming in the digital world constantly.  Radio, cell phone and wifi are the invisible digital waves in which we now live and swim in.  It is just like the air we breath, invisible and occupying the space around us.  So why do we try to censor and control this new medium?  Should something that we occupy the same space with be free to access or use just like the air we breath?  Or will the air we breath soon be under the same regulations and control much like governments trying to control the digital world (watch the movie Total Recall)? 

        I have found several tools which challenge companies and governments who try to restrict something which is already free.  For example, there is a tool called "DownloadHelper" which is a Firefox browser plugin that allows a person to download any movie embeded in a web page.  The webpage states that "With some exceptions, downloaded videos must be kept on your disk for personal use and are not to be shown on other websites."  There is another tool called "Audio Hijack Pro" which can be used to copy streaming music from your computer.  So with both of these tools I can go to YouTube, search for my favorite band, and download a music video along with the song for free.  There is no need to buy a band's album along with the music video when it is already available online for free.  If everyone started doing this then think about the hit certain industries would take.


        According to, total revenue from U.S. music sales and licensing plunged to $6.3 billion in 2009, according to Forrester Research. In 1999, that revenue figure topped $14.6 billion.  It is difficult to Despite the great decline in sales, the Internet has exposed consumers to more music than ever before. But that accessibility has been difficult to monetize.  The music industry is starting to offer services to people by charging for access to music instead of having physical access to the digital product.  Still, it does not solve the issue of having free and open access to the digital stream which is flowing all around us.  There will always be tools and ways of copying media for free regardless of the rules and regulations that are put in place. 

Egpyt is free, who will lead this country?

        It is interesting how the state of Egypt is still up and running despite the military council taking over.  It is like the mechanisims of the nation state are in place and instilled in all of the people.  The people as a society know what to do when things are out of balance.  No matter who is in power, the human need for freedom and justice is instilled in every human being.  It is the Panopticon at work, were people are governing themselves without the need of the government to watch over the people. 
        The penoptigon philosphy is influencing the people to have the state of
egypt come back into balance and return the state back to normalicy.  Now the people are wanting the army to step down and return control of Egypt back over to a civilian led government.

         The military is in agreement with this and know there role.  They want to keep the nation state safe and secure at all costs while trying to avoid any casualties or other costly damages.  Also, the pressure from other world governments has Egypt under watch so it is hard for the army to exert any type of military dominance or perform any acts of violence towards the civilian populous.  This is another form of the Panopticon at work with nations watching other nations and though the philosphy of this theory states that the people in the prisons cannot tell if they are being watched, most nation states do what they want not considering being watched until outside pressures start to come influence the nation state that is under survelliance. 

        We can see this example in a dictatorship country were Hilter and Sadamm Hussein did what they want with other countries not doing anything until events occured that were intolerable.  The modern day nation states are designed to keep order in the world and with the advancement
of digital communications it is easier for everyone in a nation state or country to have a voice.  In the end, the need for nation states to share a common state of balance, freedom and peace is what everyone in the world is seeking.

I know this is only a small part of the whole issue that is going on in Egypt, so I am using this as an example of understanding what we have read in class along with understanding what is going on in th world.  Please post your comments or share your ideas!