Rebecca MacKinnon, the Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, delivered the inaugural lecture for the Liberation Technology Seminar Series on Jan. 12 on the topic of Internet freedom and governance. She discussed her new book, Consent of the Networked, where she argues the need to go beyond the issue of whether internet is a positive or a negative force for democracy, and for focusing on regulating technology in constructive ways.
Recognizing that the Internet is a multi-stakeholder environment, she argued for pragmatic engagement with a variety of players including governments and large intermediary services. MacKinnon encourages the “network” to assert their rights in cyberspace both by seeking to redefine the legal space and through constructive engagement with private players who own the space in which a large volume of public discourse takes place today. In the process, she took us through recent debates on Internet governance globally and discussed examples of how the space is being shaped actively by governments around the world with enormous consequences for democracy.