If you’re into “re-skilling” and urban homesteading activities like canning or raising backyard chickens, then you probably think that working outside in the fresh air is better than sitting at a computer and spending time online.
Since you’re reading this, you’re obviously not a total Luddite. But if you spend more than a couple hours online at a time, you may feel a bit guilty about it.
When it seems like the Net is just a time waster at best and a huge, self-deceiving ego-trip at worst (“hey, I got seven new likes on Facebook today!”), it’s easy to forget that the Web is also a powerful tool for truth-telling and political activism.
Whatever the traditional media claim, everybody knows that social media was crucial for the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street. Ever since, tyrants and paid liars alike have quaked at the power of the Net to expose well crafted deceptions and to quickly mobilize citizens into action.
Just think of the Internet petition that forced Bank of America to withdraw its hated $5 monthly fee on ATM cards.
The Internet is the best place to learn the real extent of the economic crisis and find other news free of the self-censorship practiced by the corporate-controlled media. And the Net allows ordinary citizens to connect across the boundaries of race, class and nationality that governments and rich people use to keep us apart.
Why Net freedom matters
Any threat to a free and open Internet is about more than your ability to rack up points on Farmville. A challenge to Net freedom is a challenge to your ability to connect with people of your choosing, to seek the information you want and to exercise your rights as a free citizen.
So when Orwellian legislation like SOPA and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) allow governments to send their spy agencies online to monitor the activity of ordinary people to protect the copyright of big media companies or catch “terrorists,” we should all sit up and take notice.
Now, entering the battle to keep the Net free, are the brilliant hip hoppers at Rap News with their latest episode “Big Brother is WWWatching You.”
Rap News creators Giordano and Hugo lay bare the face of Internet surveillance and show how high are the stakes on Net spying and the need to push back. Efforts to enclose the Internet commons set a dangerous precedent for our freedoms of speech and assembly not just online but overall. Imagine, newscaster Robert Foster asks, how such restrictions could have killed freedom movements throughout history, from the American Revolution to Civil Rights and Women’s Lib.
Then, in a surprise visit from beyond the grave, George Orwell himself issues a challenge to all of us who value online democracy: protect yourselves.
How? Join the Tor Project for anonymity online. Tor offers a software package including a secure web browser that you can download and use free of charge to thwart online snoops and preserve your privacy and dignity while Web surfing.
On the Tor site, you’ll notice a logo for the Internet Defense League. Following in the footsteps of online civil libertarians like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, this new initiative seeks to replicate the successful activism of the Stop SOPA campaign with its Internet-wide blackout, but with an ongoing effort on a larger scale. We’ve just added the Defense League badge to our site. Why not add it to yours?
As peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis intensify, perhaps leading to a world crisis this fall, you can expect the authorities to crack down on citizens who question the status quo online.
That may strike such fear in your heart that you just want to unplug from the Net altogether. But if enough people who care about truth abandon the Internet, then the spies and liars will have won. And then there will be no free media left.
We should not surrender our last free and open mass medium. Instead, we should protect ourselves so we can stay to fight another day for the freedoms to search for the truth and then to stand up for it.
Sovereign men and women throughout history have never willingly ceded these core freedoms to any tyrant. We should have the courage to follow their example.
— Erik Curren, Transition Voice