Thursday, March 08, 2012

The Invisible Dictators

A few weeks ago, active users of the Internet were concerned about SOPA and its Senate counterpart. The proposed legislation could have, in attempting to reign in online piracy, muzzled legitimate content creators and pretty much stifled the continuous creativity we have come to expect in this new connected world. The power to control the Internet would have effectively been handed over to those who already have power in the traditional media.

More recently, anxiety has been raised about proposals on the international level that would hand all the reins of the Internet over to governments. Looking at some of the governments around the world that already attempt to control every aspect of online life, that is indeed a chilling scenario.

But yesterday we had an example of the real, though invisible, dictators of the Internet. They have assumed for themselves the authority to silence any voice they disagree with, and to punish wrongdoings. Even wrongdoings that they have no direct connection with or authority over. Even wrongdoings that took place five centuries ago.

This famously unnamed group of hackers decided that yesterday was as good a day as any to silence the Roman Catholic Church by shutting down the Vartican website. They did it, they claimed, in order to punish it for the scandals of the past (and all the way back to the Inquisition), and out of hatred for its "conservative doctrines" and "anachronistic rules" (which include the Liturgy). Although they claimed not to intend to target "Christianity," they did announce a war on religion. I suppose any religion which does not worship using ancient traditions or preserve its own teachings intact will be spared.

Who would have thought that an underground network with allegedly idealistic origins would become the greatest threat to freedom of expression in the age of open communications? Without any need to actually verify their own assumptions and conclusions, they simply impose their values on any target within reach. (And I thought it was only Catholics who imposed their values on others!)
Hmmmm. Maybe we should go back to ham radio...

1 comment:

Ruth Ann Pilney said...

Truly scary! I think I like the Internet the way it is now, although it would be better without hackers and other malevolent types.