World Web War I

Posted on February 5, 2011 by

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The resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak seems imminent. Despite the staggering devotion shown by the protesters what’s been interesting me is Mubarak’s attempts to ‘retract’ the Internet and the mobile phone networks from the people. Obviously this was an attempt to hinder the Egyptians ability to communicate and thus kill off the never-ending protests. The amazing point to this though how it failed, and miserably at that.

Perhaps the most notable case of this failure was helped along by Twitter and Google who quickly released a means for protesters to Tweet without access to the Internet. Not the first time a global corporation like Google has acted against the wishes of a government I’m sure but for Twitter this was a new game.

Barton Gellman suggested this was “World Web War I” and said in his article for Time magazine: “The web fought back in ways we haven’t seen before, and it’s winning.” With all the goings on in the technology world at the moment you wouldn’t surprise many by expressing this thought. ‘World Web War’ may be a little extreme (at the moment) but it highlights just how much technology is changing the world. Cyber-attacks, piracy, Wikileaks and now the controversy in Egypt, maybe I’m only just starting to take notice of this? Or more realistically perhaps, maybe the world is starting to take notice?

Gellan said: “First Wikileaks, now Egypt. Activists and geeks, standing together, are demonstrating powers beyond the reach of government control.”

Is this a good thing though? I mean will this bring about a new age for democracy? Or just shift the balance of power from one group to another? If governments like that of Egypt feel threatened by change will they go to even more extreme measures that make five days of no Internet access seem tame by comparison?

The creator of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee said to the BBC: “Wireless internet providers are being tempted to slow traffic to sites with which they have not made deals. Governments – totalitarian and democratic alike – are monitoring people’s online habits, endangering important human rights.”

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Posted in: Media, Technology