Following on the New York Times's decision to continue its critical coverage of China, despite the Chinese government's retaliation against it, Dan Gillmor calls on journalists and news organizations to abandon the pretense of "neutrality" and take a partisan stand for free speech in questions of censorship, surveillance, net neutrality, copyright takedown, and other core issues of speech in the 21st century.
What are these choke points? The most obvious is what’s happening to the Internet itself. In America and a number of other countries the telecommunications industry — often working with government, and in some cases outright owned by government — is deciding, or insisting on the right to decide, what bits of information get to people’s devices in what order and at what speed, or whether they get there at all. This is what network neutrality is all about in the U.S.: whether we, at the edges of the networks, get to make those decisions or whether telecom companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T will ultimately have that power, as they insist they need. The worries about corporate media consolidation in the 1990s seem quaint next to this kind of consolidation. Free speech? It’ll be as free a Comcast et al want it to be if they get the upper hand.
Surveillance, too, has become a method for government — again, often working with big companies — to keep track of what journalists and activists are doing, well beyond the avowed mission of stopping terrorism and solving crimes.
When it comes to free speech, journalists should be activists [Dan Gillmor/Backchannel]
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