Last Wednesday, India banned bulk mobile messaging for the days leading up to a religiously sensitive court decision. The reason given: to prevent the organization of religious riots. Analysts saw it as a highly unusual and bold move for the world’s largest democracy.
But is this just another indication of a global crack down on the freedom that modern communications has afforded us? Another confirmation that this freedom is no longer seen as a benefit, but as a threat?
In the US, the Obama administration plans to submit a bill to Congress next year that will require technologies like BlackBerry, Facebook, and Skype to be capable of complying with a wiretap order, including the ability to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages. The reason given: their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is “going dark” as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone.
James X. Dempsey, vice-president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, was reported in the New York Times on Monday as saying the proposal challenges fundamental aspects of the way the Internet works, including its decentralized design: “They basically want to turn back the clock and make Internet services function the way that the telephone system used to function.”
The question is, as worlds’ governments take more control, will it effect how we use the internet? Will it impact on the services that are provided? I mentioned in my blog yesterday that there is a move towards much more social and personal internet usage. But if big brother is watching, will people be so quick to bare their souls?