Why political liberty depends on software freedom more than ever

The right net brings freedom and the wrong net brings tyranny because it all depends on how the code works.

Just now, I finished watching an outstanding talk Eben Moglen gave at FOSDEM 2011. But instead of elaborating more on it, here are two more quotes from the speech:

What has happened in Iran, in Egypt, in Tunisia—and what will happen in other societies over the next few years—demonstrates the enormous political and social importance of social networking. But everything we know about technology tells us that the current forms of social network communication, despite their enormous current value for politics, are also intensely dangerous to use.

They are too centralized, they are too vulnerable to state retaliation and control. The design of their technology, like the design of almost all unfree software technology, is motivated more by business interests seeking profit than by technological interests seeking freedom.

As a result of which, we are watching political movements of enormous value, capable of transforming the lives of hundreds of millions of people, resting on a fragile basis, like, for example, the courage of Mr. Zuckerberg, or the willingness of Google to resist the state, where the state is a powerful business partner and a party Google cannot afford frequently to insult.

Software is what the 21st century is made of. What steel was to the economy of the 20th century, what steel was to the power of the 20th century, what steel was to the politics of the 20th century, software is now. It is the crucial building block, the component out of which everything else is made, and, when I speak of everything else, I mean of course freedom, as well as tyranny, as well as business as usual, as well as spying on everybody for free all the time.

Here is the talk:

You can get an OGG Theora version of the video here. A transcript of the talk can be found here.

Enjoy it and spread the word. Happy hacking! 😀

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