Can internet activism turn into a real political movement? The Economist

On Jan 5, 2013, The Economist ran a wonderful article discussing internet users’ political power.  Opening with a discussion of netizen victories over SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, and other restrictive internet laws, the article suggested that internet users organized against restrictive laws bear similarity to both the Green Movement and the counter-culture movement of the 60s.  Indeed, the “‘culture of the internet’ . . . believe[s] in technological progress, the free flow of information, virtual communities and entrepreneurialism” (and of course funny pictures of cats and overused memes).  Much like those radical hippies in the environmentalist movement, the internet even has its own “direct-action arm” in Anonymous.

Not to toot my own horn, but I had a similar thought in our Year in Review: 2013: the movement that brought down ACTA/PIPA/SOPA demonstrates that the internet has found its voice.  Unfortunately, I think some of this is counterproductive, as that same movement has opposed some much-needed cybersecurity bills.  As much as ACTA/PIPA/SOPA needed to fail, a bill like CISPA/the CSA of 2012 needs to succeed, and a lot of these internet activists conflate any cyber legislation with another attempt to censor the internet or pad the MPAA’s pockets.  Some lawmakers may be hesitant to bring a much-needed cybersecurity bill to the floor in the fear that Reddit users will mistakenly take up their pitch-forks and torches.  But I digress.

Back to The Economist article, which contains a very interesting discussion of Germany’s Pirate Party and a graph demonstrating that 22% of Americans would give up sex to secure the internet.  How do we balance the free flow of information and the desire for innovation while protecting intellectual-property rights?   Where do we strike the balance between the “open and closed, owned and free[?]”  Does the internet’s new voice or the German Pirate Party have staying power, or is it just “mere ‘clicktivism.'”  The article tracks how the German Pirate Party stormed onto the scene, but since that time, has seen its influence wane dramatically.  Do net activists actually want to play politics, or is the “lasting influence of the net movement” the provision of “new tools and tactics for people with other political aims[?]”

Wonderful article from The Economist, with some interesting comments as well.

Please follow and like us:


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.


Untitled Document
Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. She is the 2018-9 Editor in Chief of the Syracuse Law Review, as well as a member of the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

Anna Maria Castillois 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography


Follow by Email