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> Subject: Richard K. Moore: Democracy and Cyberspace 1/2
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> Date: Wed, 1 Oct 1997 21:44:31 +0100 (MET)
> From: "Pit Schultz" <pit@uropax.contrib.de>
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>                      DEMOCRACY AND CYBERSPACE
>                 Copyright 1997 by Richard K. Moore
>                          Wexford, Ireland
>                           rkmoore@iol.ie
>              http://www.iol.ie/~rkmoore/cyberjournal
>                Presented at International Conference
>       "Discourse and Decision Making in the Information Age"
>                       University of Teesside
>                          18 September 1997
>                          [Revised: 24 Sep]
> Digital cyberspace: a quick tour of the future
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> Let's stand back for a moment from today's Internet and from the 
> temporary lag in deployment of state-of-the-art digital technology.  
> >From a longer perspective, certain aspects of the future cyberspace 
> are plain to see.
> As regards transport infrastructure - the pipes - cyberspace is 
> simply the natural and inevitable integration/rationalization of the 
> disparate, patched-together, special purpose networks that make up 
> the nervous system of modern societies.  Besides the _public_ 
> distribution systems such as terrestrial and satellite broadcast, 
> cable, and telephone (cellular and otherwise), this integration will 
> also extend to dedicated _private_ systems, such as handle point-of-
> sale transactions, tickets and reservations, inter-bank transfers, 
> CCTV surveillance, stock transfers, etc.  
> The _cost savings_, _performance gains_, and _application 
> flexibility_ brought by such total integration are simply too 
> compelling for this integration scenario to be seriously doubted.  
> Just as surely as the telegraph replaced the carrier pigeon, and the 
> telephone replaced the telegraph, this integration is one bit of 
> progress that is bound to happen, one way or another, sooner or 
> later.
> Significant technical work is still required on the infrastructure, 
> to provide efficiently and reliably such mandatory features as 
> security, guaranteed bandwidth, accountability, authentication, and 
> the prevention of "mail-bombs" and other Internet anomalies.  But 
> these features don't require rocket science - they are more a matter 
> of selecting from proven technologies and agreeing on standards, 
> interconnect arrangements, and implementation schedules.  
> The global digital high-bandwidth network - the hardware of 
> cyberspace - will in fact be the ultimate distribution mechanism for 
> the mass-media industry: it will subsume broadcast (air and cable) 
> television, video-tape rentals, and perhaps even audio cd's.  These 
> familiar niceties will go the way of vinyl records and punched cards.
> Cyberspace will be the universal connection of the individual to the 
> world at large: "transactions on the net" will  be the the way to 
> access funds and accounts, make purchases and reservations, pay 
> taxes, view media products (films, news, sports, entertainment, etc), 
> initiate real-time calls, send and receive messages from individuals 
> and groups, query traffic-congestion patterns, etc. ad infinitum.  
> Each transaction will have an associated price - posted to your 
> account - with some portion going to the ultimate vendor (eg, content 
> provider) and some going to the various intermediaries - just as with 
> credit card purchases today.
> Today's Internet: democratized communications
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> Today's Internet is most remarkable for its cultural aspects.  
> Technically, Internet is one small episode in the ever-evolving 
> parade of technology, and soon to be outmoded.  But culturally - and 
> economically - Internet seems to be a phenomenon nearly unprecedented 
> in human history.
> Internet is a non-monetized communications realm, an open global 
> commons, a communications marketplace with a very special economics 
> in both content and transport.
> Each physical node (and its connecting hookups) is, in essence, 
> donated to the network infrastructure by its operator (government 
> agency, private company, university, ISP) for his own and the common 
> benefit - a classic case of anarchistic mutual benefit. 
> Similarly the content of Internet is a voluntary commons: anyone can 
> be a publisher or can self-publish their own work.  Publications of 
> all levels of quality and subject matter are available, generally for 
> free.  The only costs to a user are typically fixed and moderate - 
> everyone in the globe is a local call away, so to speak, and 
> communication with groups is as cheap and convenient as communication 
> with individuals. 
> Anyone can join the global Internet co-op for a modest fee.  Internet 
> brings the massification of discourse; it prototypes the 
> democratization of media.  Individuals voluntarily serve as 
> "intelligent agents", forwarding on items of interest to various 
> groups.  Web sites bristle with links to related sites, and an almost 
> infinite world of information becomes effectively accessible even by 
> novices.
> Netizens experience this global commons as a democratic renaissance, 
> a flowering of public discourse, a finding-of-voice by millions who 
> might otherwise have exemplified Thoreau's "lives of quiet 
> desperation".  Like minded people can virtually gather together, 
> across national boundaries and without concern for time-zones.  
> Information, perhaps published in an obscure leaflet in an unknown 
> corner of the world, suddenly is brought to the attention of 
> thousands worldwide - based on its intrinsic interest-value.
> The net is especially effective in the coordination of real-world 
> organizations - enhancing group communication, reducing travel and 
> meetings, and enabling more rapid decision making. 
> The real-world political impact of Internet culture, up to now, is 
> difficult to gauge.  Interesting and powerful ideas are discussed 
> online - infinitely broader than what occurs in mass-media "public 
> discourse" - but to a large extent such ideas seem buried in the net 
> itself, and when the computer is turned off one wonders if it wasn't 
> all just a dream, confined to the ether.  So far, there seems to be 
> minimal spillover into the real world.
> Ironically, at least from my perspective, it seems to be right-wing 
> organizations that are making most effective political use of the net 
> at present - organizing write-in campaigns, mobilizing opinion around 
> focused issues, etc.  Those of us with more liberal democratic values 
> seem more divided and less driven to achieving actual concrete 
> results.  Present company excepted, of course.
> One wonders, however, what might happen if a period of popular 
> activism were to occur, such as we saw in the 1960's, the 1930's, 
> 1900's, 1848 , 1798, 1776, etc.  If a similar episode of unrest were 
> to recur, the Internet might turn out to be a sleeping political 
> giant - coordinating protests, facilitating strategy discussions, 
> mobilizing massive voter turnouts, distributing reports suppressed in 
> the mass media, etc.  The "people's" mass media could have awesome 
> effect on the body politic, if some motivating urgency were to 
> crystallize activism.
> Such a scenario is not just idle imagining.  Eruptions of activism do 
> in fact occur (there have been a few in Germany, France, and 
> Australia recently, for example).  The net is not widespread enough 
> yet to have been significant in such events (as far as I know), but 
> we may be very close to critical mass in some Western countries, and 
> the power of Internet for real-world group organization has been 
> tested and proven.
> This activist-empowerment potential of Internet is something that 
> many elements of society would naturally find very threatening.  Some 
> countries, such as Iran, China, and Malaysia - where "motivating 
> urgency" exists in the populous - take the threat of "excess 
> democracy" quite seriously, and have instituted various kinds of 
> restrictive Internet policies.
> I would presume - and this point will be developed a bit later - that 
> awareness (in ruling circles) of the "subversive" threat from 
> Internet lends considerable political support to the various net-
> censorship initiatives that are underway in Western nations, and that 
> such awareness may largely explain the mass-media image of Internet 
> as a land of hackers, terrorists, and pedophiles.
> Partly because of this potential activist "threat", and partly 
> because of economic considerations, there is considerable reason to 
> suspect that Internet culture will not long continue quite as we know 
> it. Apart from censorship itself, chilling copyright and libel laws, 
> and other measures, are in the works which can in various direct and 
> indirect ways close the damper on the open Internet.  The average Joe 
> Citizen, spoon-fed by the mass-media, all to often holds the opinion 
> that Internet is a haven of perverts and terrorists, and thus 
> Internet restrictions are not met with the same public outcry that 
> would accompany, for example, newspaper censorship.
> Internet offers a prototype demonstration of how cyberspace _could_ 
> be applied to enhance the democratic process - to make it more open 
> and participatory.  But netizens are not the only ones with their 
> eyes on the cyberspace prize.  We next examine another potential 
> cyberspace client - the mass-media industry.
> The mass media: monopolized communications
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> Like the Internet, today's mass-media industry is also a global 
> communications network, and also offers access to seemingly infinite 
> information.  Beyond these similarities, however, the two could not 
> be more different. While Internet exchange is non-economic, mass-
> media increasingly is fully commercialized; while anyone can publish 
> on the net, publication access to mass-media is controlled by those 
> who own it; while the full spectrum of public thinking can be found 
> on the net, discussion in the mass-media is narrow and systematically 
> projects the world-view of its owners.
> In the mass-media, rather than voluntary contributors, we have 
> "content owners" and "content producers".  Instead of free mailing-
> lists, web-links, and voluntary forwarding agents, we have "content 
> distributors" - including broadcast networks, cable operators , 
> satellite operators, cinema chains, and video rental chains.  And 
> instead of an audience of participants (netizens), we have 
> "consumers".
> In both networks the information content reflects the interests of 
> the owners.  With Internet this means that the content is as broad as 
> society itself.  But with the mass-media, the narrow scope of content 
> reflects the fact that ownership of mass-media, on a global scale, is 
> increasingly coming to be concentrated in a clique of large corporate 
> conglomerates.  The mass-media does not serve discourse, education, 
> or democracy particularly well - it's designed instead to distribute 
> corporate-approved products to "consumers", and to manage public 
> opinion.
> The U.S. telecom and media industries have long been privatized, and 
> hence the corporatized version of mass media is most thoroughly 
> evolved in the U.S.  It is the U.S. model which, for the most part, 
> seems destined to become the global norm - partly because the U.S. 
> provides a precedent microcosm of what are becoming global conditions 
> (a corporate dominated economy), and partly because the U.S. 
> effectively promulgates its pro-corporate policies in international 
> forums.  
> As state-run broadcasting systems are increasingly privatized under 
> globalization it is the deep-pockets corporate media operators who 
> are likely acquire them, thus propagating the U.S. media model 
> globally, although U.S. operators will by no means be the only buyers 
> in the market.
> The U.S. model is a monopoly model - a "clique of majors" dominates 
> the industry, just as the Seven-Sisters clique dominates the world 
> oil market.  "The Nation" (3 June 1996) published a remarkable road-
> map of the U.S. news and entertainment industry, graphically 
> highlighting the collective hegemony of GE, Time-Warner, Disney-Cap-
> Cities, and Westinghouse.  These majors are vertically integrated - 
> they own not only production facilities and content, but also 
> distribution systems - radio and television broadcast stations, 
> satellites, cable systems, and cinema chains.
> We might think of Time-Warner and Disney as being primarily media 
> companies, but for GE and Westinghouse, media is clearly a side-line 
> business.  They are into everything from nuclear power-stations and 
> jet fighters, to insurance and medical equipment.  Their broadcast 
> policies reflect not only the profit-motive of their media companies, 
> but equally the overall interests of the owning conglomerate.  NBC is 
> not likely, for example, to run an expose of GE nuclear-reactor 
> safety problems or of corruption involving GE's government contracts.
> When you consider the ownership of the mass-media, and the additional 
> influence of corporate advertisers, it is no surprise that the 
> content of mass-media - not just news but entertainment as well - 
> overwhelmingly projects a world view that is friendly to corporate 
> interests generally.
> As globalization proceeds, these four conglomerates - along with 
> Murdoch and others - will compete to buy up distribution and 
> production facilities on a worldwide basis.  The clear trend, 
> following a shakeout period, is toward a global mass-media industry 
> dominated by a clique of TNC (transnational corporation) "majors".  
> Globalization of the media industry translates ultimately into 
> corporate domination of global information flows, and the centralized 
> management of global public opinion.
> Whereas the Internet precedent suggests the potential of cyberspace 
> to connect citizens with one another on a participatory basis, a 
> corporate-dominated mass-media industry sees cyberspace primarily as 
> a product-distribution system and a means of opinion-control.  In 
> order to assess how cyberspace will in fact  be applied, we need to 
> examine the political context in  which cyberspace will evolve - we 
> need to take a closer   look at this thing called "democracy".
> The see-saw of democracy and the advent of globalization
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> Democracy has always been a see-saw struggle for control between 
> citizens at large and elite economic interests.  This struggle has 
> been perhaps more apparent in a country like Britain, where a 
> consciously acknowledged class system long operated.  In the U.S., 
> with its more egalitarian rhetoric, there has often been a tendency 
> to deny the existence of such struggles and to embrace the mythology 
> that popular sovereignty had been largely achieved in the "land of 
> the free".
> But in fact, the tension between popular and elite interests was 
> anticipated by America's Founding Fathers, was articulated explicitly 
> by James Madison (primary architect of the U.S. Constitution), and 
> was institutionalized in that document by the balance between the 
> Senate and the House of Representatives, and by numerous other means.
> Under democracy, power is officially vested in the voters, and hence 
> the balance of power between the elite and the people would seem to 
> be overwhelmingly in favor of the people.  For their part, the 
> economic elite have considerable influence due to the investments and 
> credit they control - and the funds they have available to influence 
> the political process in various and significant ways.
> Hence the balance of power is not that easy to call, and there has in 
> fact been a see-saw of power shifts over the past two centuries.  
> During the late-nineteenth century "robber baron" era, for example, 
> with its laissez-faire philosophy, there was a clear pre-dominance of 
> elite power, with monopolized markets and widespread worker 
> exploitation.  In the reform movements of the early twentieth 
> century, on the other hand, with its trust-busting and regulatory 
> regimes, the elite found themselves on the defensive.
> In today's world of neoliberal globalization, the economic elite are 
> again clearly in the ascendency.  The vehicle of elite power and 
> ownership today is the modern TNC, and globalization - with its 
> privatization, deregulation, lower corporate taxes, and free-trade 
> policies - adds up to a radical shift of power and assets from the 
> nation state (where the democratic see-saw operates) to TNC's, over 
> which citizens have no significant influence - the campaigns of Ralph 
> Nader, Greenpeace, et al having been systematically constrained and 
> marginalized.  
> Economic policy making, which has traditionally fallen under the 
> jurisdiction of sovereign nation states, is being transferred 
> wholesale by various treaties to the the WTO (World Trade 
> Organization), the IMF, and other faceless commissions - all of which 
> are dominated overwhelmingly by the TNC community, particularly by 
> that clique of TNC's which are known as the "international financial 
> community".
> This transfer of economic sovereignty is most advanced in the Third 
> World, where the IMF increasingly dictates economic, fiscal, and 
> social policies at a micro level.  In India, for example, public 
> officials often turn directly to IMF staff for policy guidance, 
> leaving the Indian government out of the loop entirely.  
> The trends - and the binding treaty commitments - indicate that the 
> First World as well is destined to come under increasing domination 
> by this TNC-run, globalist-commission regime.  Already we are 
> beginning to see examples of such inroads, as U.S. policy toward Cuba 
> is being challenged under NAFTA and EU beef-import policy is being 
> challenged under the WTO, along with market protections for Carribean 
> banana producers.  These examples are only the tip of the formidable 
> globalist iceberg lying in the path of the once-sovereign Ship of 
> State.
> Globalization amounts to a coup d'etat by the global economic elite.  
> _Temporary_ political ascendency in the West is being systematically 
> leveraged into _permanent_ global political ascendency, 
> institutionalized in the network of elite-dominated commissions and 
> agencies.  The see-saw game has been abandoned by the elite, and the 
> citizenry find themselves down on their backs.
> The democratic process may continue to govern the affairs of the 
> nation state, but the power and resources of the nation state are 
> being radically constrained, democracy is being rendered thereby 
> irrelevant, and global power is thus being shifted from democratic 
> institutions to elite institutions.  Democracy is less and less 
> society's sovereign, even though public rhetoric continues as usual.  
> The deliberations of the commissions go largely unreported - the 
> globalist revolution, profound as it is, is mostly a stealth affair.
> According to this analysis, democracy is in considerable trouble 
> indeed, and by comparison the future of cyberspace would seem to be a 
> secondary concern.  But the plot continues to thicken, as we proceed 
> to an examination of propaganda and its institutionalized role in the 
> machinery of modern democracy.
> Propaganda and democracy
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> As Noam Chomsky so competently documents in "Manufacturing Consent", 
> propaganda has always been an essential mechanism in the machinery of 
> democracy, the primary means by which the elite insure that their own 
> interests are not overwhelmed by what Samuel P. Huntington refers to 
> as the "excesses of democracy" and what James Madison referred to as 
> "mob rule".
> Ownership of media, as a means to influence public opinion and 
> ultimately the policies of government, has always been used to 
> advantage by the economic elite in democracies - in the ongoing see-
> saw struggle for power.  Popular movements have also made effective 
> use of the media, from time to time, but in today's increasingly 
> concentrated media industry, elite control over public opinion is for 
> all intents and purposes total.  It is so total, in fact, that just 
> as a fish is not aware of the water through which he swims, one 
> sometimes forgets how constrained the scope of public debate has 
> become. 
> Madison avenue techniques applied to campaigns, including focus on 
> sound-bites, turns political campaigns into little more than 
> advertising episodes, much like the release of a new toothpaste or 
> hairspray. This has long characterized the situation in the U.S., and 
> with Blair's takeover of the Labor Party, we've seen the same 
> paradigm ported to the UK.
> Even opposition to the status quo is channeled and deflected by media 
> emphasis, as with the militia movements (and Perot and Buchanan 
> candidacies) in the U.S. and the National Front movements in UK and 
> France, which are exploited so as to _define_ anti-globalist 
> sentiment as being reactionary, ultra-nationalist, luddite, and 
> racist; similarly environmental sentiments are regularly interpreted 
> as being anti-labor, anti-prosperity, "elitist", etc.
> Demonization of governments and politicians - ie, blaming government 
> for the problems caused by globalism and excessive corporate 
> influence - is perhaps the single most potent coup of the mind-
> control media in promoting the decline of democratic institutions and 
> the rise of globalism.
> Globalization itself further exemplifies the potency of media 
> propaganda.  The rhetoric of neoliberalism, with its "reforms" and 
> "market forces" and "smaller government", is not just a _position_ 
> within the scope of public debate, but has come to be the very 
> _frame_ of debate.  Politicians and government leaders rarely debate 
> _whether_ to embrace globalization, but compete instead to espouse 
> national policies that _best accommodate_ the demands of 
> globalization.
> As media itself is being globalized and concentrated, it is no 
> surprise that globalization propaganda is one of its primary 
> products.  Whether the vehicle be feature film, network news, 
> advertisement, panel discussion, or sit-com, the presumption of the 
> inevitability of the market-forces system and the bankruptcy of 
> existing political arrangements always comes through loud and clear - 
> even when the future's dark side is being portrayed.
> The propagandistic success of this barrage is especially amazing in 
> light of the utter bankruptcy of the neoliberal philosophy itself.  
> The whole experience of the robber-baron era has simply vanished from 
> public memory, in true Orwellian fashion, as we are told that market 
> forces and deregulation are "modern" efficiencies, the brilliant 
> result of state-of-the-art economic genius.
> This historical revision by omission has the consequence that no one 
> brings up the fact that these policies have been tried before and 
> were found sorely wanting - that they led to economic instability, 
> monopolized markets, cyclical depressions, political corruption, 
> worker exploitation, and social depravity - and that generations of 
> reform were required to re-introduce competition into markets, to 
> stabilize the financial system, and to institute more equitable 
> employer/employee relations.
> The regulatory regimes that were in place before the Reagan-Thatcher 
> era were there for very good reason - they adjudicated, with varying 
> effectiveness, between society's desire for stability and citizen 
> welfare, on the one hand, and the corporate desire for maximizing 
> profits, on the other. 
> These regimes implemented a generally reasonable accommodation 
> between the interests of the elite and the people.  But, with the 
> help of today's media propaganda, everyone now "knows" that 
> regulations are nothing more than the counter-productive ego-trips of 
> well or ill-meaning politico bureaucrats who have nothing better to 
> do than interfere in other people's business.
> Again in Orwellian fashion, today's "reforms" are in fact the 
> _dismantlement_ of reforms - reforms which accomplished the 
> moderation of decades of market-forces abuse.  The power of the media 
> to define and interpret events, and to set the context in which 
> public discussion is framed, is immense.  Old wine can be presented 
> in new vessels, and black can be presented as white, as long as the 
> message is repeated often enough and the facts that don't fit are 
> never given airtime.
> The mass media is the front line of corporate globalist control - the 
> very trenches in the battle to maintain elite domination; this fact, 
> in addition to market forces, adds extra urgency to the pace of 
> global media concentration.  The central political importance of 
> corporate-dominated mass media to the globalization process, and to 
> elite control generally, must be kept in mind when attempting to 
> predict the fate of Internet culture when commercial cyberspace 
> begins to come online.  
> In this regard, the treatment of cyberspace and Internet in the 
> mass-media over the past few years lends some portending insights.  
> There are two quite different images that are typically presented, 
> one commercially oriented and the other not. 
> The first image, frequently presented in fiction or in futuristic 
> documentaries, is about the excitement of cyber adventures, the 
> thrill of virtual reality, and the promise of myriad online 
> enterprises.  This commercially oriented image is projected with a 
> positive spin, and suddenly every product and organization on the 
> block includes a www.My.Logo.com on its packaging and advertising, 
> with in many cases only symbolic utility.  Madison avenue is selling 
> cyberspace - but it's selling the commercial version yet to be 
> implemented, it's pre-establishing a mass-market demand.
> The other image, very much anchored in today's Internet technology, 
> has to do with sinister hackers, wacko bomb conspirators, and luring 
> pedophiles.  Those of us who use the net daily find such stories 
> ludicrous and unrepresentative, but because we dismiss such stories 
> we may not realize that for much of the general population, that's 
> all they hear about today's Internet.
> If you'll permit me a personal anecdote - but a not atypical one...  
> at the bank where my girl friend works, here in rural Ireland, the 
> subject of Internet came up among some of the workers.  None of them 
> had ever been online, yet their unhesitating sentiment was that 
> they'd never let their kids near that evil network, where they'd be 
> immediately assaulted by obscene material and indecent proposals.
> The infamous Time article on Cyberporn, for example, was pure 
> demonization propaganda - blatantly deceptive and sensationalist - 
> and standard  publication procedures were surreptitiously violated in 
> order to get it printed.  But the effect of the original publication 
> on the general public was in no way undone by the mild apologies that 
> were later offered. 
> The U.S. CDA (censorship) initiative, whose passage was assisted in 
> no small measure by the well-timed article, was fortunately rejected 
> by the U.S. Supreme Court.  But the defamation campaign against the 
> non-economic Internet continues, in ironic contrast to the boosting 
> images of its commercial future cousin (where no doubt the commercial 
> pornographic offerings will in fact be equally graphic).
> The relationship between cyberspace and democracy is a complex one 
> indeed.  Internet culture, as the seeming prototype for future 
> cyberspace experience, has enabled a renaissance of open public 
> discussion - a peek at a more open democratic process.  But this 
> phenomenon has been experienced by a relatively tiny minority of the 
> world's population, and may in fact not survive the commercial 
> onslaught.
> On the contrary, as universal transport for mass-media products, 
> cyberspace may in fact become the delivery vehicle for even more 
> sophisticated manipulation of public opinion.  Rather than the 
> realization of the democratic dream, cyberspace may turn out instead 
> to be the ultimate Big-Brother nightmare.
> In a world where most significant physical and financial events will 
> involve online transactions, and in a world where backdoors are built 
> into encryption algorithms and communications switches, everyone's 
> every move is an open book to those who have the keys to the net 
> nervous system - which would include government agents (on the basis 
> of legality) as well as the operators of the system (on the basis of 
> opportunity and laissez-faire non-oversight).
> >From the accounting records alone, there would be a complete trail of 
> almost everything anyone does, and the privacy of this information 
> (from government, police, credit bureaus, advertisers, direct 
> mailers, political strategists, etc.) is far from guaranteed.
> Systematic massive surveillance by government agencies would be 
> extremely easy, with the ability to track (undetected) purchases and 
> preferences, financial transactions, physical location, persons and 
> groups communicated with, and the content of communications.   There 
> is even the possibility of surreptitious gathering of audio and video 
> signals from home sets which are thought to be "off" (one up on 
> "1984"), and the remote overriding of home security systems, 
> automobile functions (windows, engine), etc.
> In particular, no sizable group (such as a political organization or 
> a public-interest group) could exist without having its every 
> deliberation and activity being monitorable by government agencies, 
> depending on how interested the authorities are in its activities.
>  |       The FBI draft would take two extraordinary steps. It would  
>  |   prohibit the manufacture, sale, import or distribution within  
>  |   the United States of any encryption product unless it contains a  
>  |   feature that would create a spare key or some other trap door  
>  |   allowing "immediate" decryption of any user's messages or files  
>  |   without the user's knowledge.
>  |       In addition, it would require all network service providers  
>  |   that offer encryption products or services to their customers to  
>  |   ensure that all messages using such encryption can be  
>  |   immediately decrypted without the knowledge of the customer.   
>  |   This would apply to telephone companies and to online service  
>  |   providers such as America Online and Prodigy.
>  |                       -The Center for Democracy and Technology,
>  |                        CDT POLICY POST, September 8, 1997
> Mandatory chip-based ID cards or even implants may seem fanciful to 
> many, but the number of government and commercial initiatives in 
> those directions worldwide is cause for serious alarm.  Such devices 
> would turn each citizen into an involuntary leaf node of the 
> cyberspace network, his chip being remotely monitorable from who-
> knows-how many scanning stations, visible or otherwise.
>  |       Building on the present national photo-id card, the Korean 
>  |   ID Card Project involves a chip-based ID card for every adult  
>  |   member of the population.  It is to include scanned  
>  |   fingerprints, and is intended to support the functions of a  
>  |   multi-purpose identifier, proof of residence, a driver's  
>  |   licence, and the national pension card.
>  |                           - Roger Clarke,
>  |                             "Chip-Based ID:  Promise and Peril"
> In summary, cyberspace promises not not only to be the ultimate 
> commercial delivery channel for the mass media industry, but its very 
> nature provides the opportunity for the mind-control aspects of the 
> mass media to be carried out with incredible precision, and with full 
> feedback-knowledge of who is actually receiving which information, 
> and even what they are saying to their friends about it.
> Cyberspace could turn out to be the ideal instrument of power for the 
> elite under globalism - giving precise scientific control over what 
> gets distributed to whom on a global basis, and full monitoring of 
> everything everyone does (and the accounting records are always there 
> to go back and follow past trails when desired).
> Some readers may find the above scenario far-fetched; they may react 
> with "It can't happen here".  I would ask them "What is there to stop 
> it?".  The corporate domination of societal information flows is an 
> inherent part of the seemingly unstoppable globalization process.  We 
> turn now from this "end view" of the scenario to an examination of 
> how events are likely to unfold...
> Cyberspace: whose utopia?
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>                The law doth punish man or woman
>                That steals the goose from off the common,
>                But lets the greater felon loose,
>                That steals the common from the goose.
>                     - Anon, 18th cent., on the enclosures.
> One can think of digital cyberspace as a kind of utopian realm, where 
> all communication wishes can be granted.  The question is who's going 
> to be running this utopian realm?  We net users tend to assume we'll 
> waltz into this utopia and use it for our creative purposes, just as 
> we have Internet. But there are others who have designs on this 
> utopia as well.  It is a frontier toward which more than one set of 
> pioneers have their wagons ready to roll.
> We're willing to pay a few cents per hour for our usage (and we 
> complain of _any_ usage charges), and our need for really high per-
> user bandwidth is yet to be demonstrated.  The media industry, on the 
> other hand, can bring a huge existing traffic onto cyberspace - a 
> traffic with much higher value-per-transaction than email and web 
> hits, and a traffic that can gobble up lots of bandwidth.  We want to 
> pay commodity prices for transport, while the media industry is 
> willing to pay whatever it needs to - and it can pass on its costs to 
> consumers.
> >From a purely economic perspective, the interests of the media 
> industry could be expected to dominate the rules of the road in 
> cyberspace - just as the well-funded land developer can always out-
> bid the would-be homesteader.  Whether it be purchasing satellite 
> spectrum or lobbying legislatures, deep-pockets tend to get their 
> way.
> But economic considerations may not be most decisive in setting the 
> rules of the cyberspace road - the political angle may be even more 
> important.  Continued mass-media domination of information 
> distribution systems is necessary if the media is to play its 
> accustomed role as shepherd of public opinion.  This role, as we have 
> seen, is mission-critical to the continuance of the globalization 
> process and to elite societal control in general.
> It is instructive in this regard to review the history of the radio 
> industry in 1920s America...
>  |       In the 20's there was a battle.  Radio was coming along,
>  |   everyone knew it wasn't a marketable product like shoes. It's
>  |   gonna be regulated and the question was, who was gonna get hold
>  |   of it? Well, there were groups, (church groups, labor unions
>  |   were extremely weak and split then, and some student groups)...
>  |   who tried to organise to get radio to become a kind of a public
>  |   interest phenomenon; but they were just totally smashed. I mean
>  |   it was completely commercialized.         - Noam Chomsky
> Other nations followed a different track (BBC et al), but this time 
> around it is the U.S. model that is predominating, as we have 
> discussed.
> The twin _drivers_ in the commercial monopolization process are 
> _economic necessity_ (squashing competition from independents for 
> audience attention) and _political necessity_ (maintaining  control 
> over public opinion). 
> The _mechanisms_ of domination include concentrated ownership of 
> infrastructure, licensing bureaucracies, information property rights, 
> libel laws, pricing structures, creation of artificial distribution 
> scarcity, and "public interest" censorship rules.  These tactics have 
> all been used and refined throughout the life of electronic media 
> technology, starting with radio, and their use can be expected as 
> part of the cyberspace commercialization process.  
> Indeed, the first signs of each of these tactics is already becoming 
> evident.  The U.S. Internet backbone has been privatized; 
> consolidation of ownership is beginning in Telecom and in ISP 
> services; WIPO (World Information Property Organization) is setting 
> down over-restrictive global copyright rules, which the U.S. is 
> embellishing with draconian criminal penalties; content restrictions 
> are cropping up all over the world, boosted by ongoing anti-Internet 
> propaganda; pricing is being turned over increasingly to "market 
> forces" (where traditional predatory practices can operate); chilling 
> libel precedents are being set; and moves are afoot to centralize 
> domain-name registration, beginning what appears to be a slippery 
> slide toward ISP licensing. And these are still very early days in 
> the commercialization process.
> Consider the U.S. Telecom Reform Bill of 1996.  Theoretically, it is 
> supposed to lead to "increased competition" - but what does that 
> mean?.  there is a transition period, during which a determination 
> must be reached that "competition is occurring".  after that it 
> becomes a more or less laissez-faire ball game, especially given the 
> ongoing climate of deregulation and lack of anti-trust enforcement.  
> There is no going back, no guarantee that if competition fades 
> regulation will be restored.
> Consolidation is permitted both horizontally and vertically - a telco 
> can expand its territory, and it can be sold/merged with content 
> (media) companies.  Prices and the definition of services are to be 
> determined by "the market".  It is well to keep in mind that the 
> Telecom Bill was pushed through by efforts of telecom and media 
> majors, and well to interpret "increased competition" in that light.  
> And it is well to keep in mind that the globalization process tends 
> to propagate the US media model.
>  |       To communications companies, then, the act has been a big 
>  |   success. The U.S. commercial media system is currently 
>  |   dominated by a few conglomerates -- Disney, the News 
>  |   Corporation, G.E., cable giant T.C.I., Universal, Sony, Time 
>  |   Warner and Viacom -- with annual media sales ranging from $7 
>  |   billion to $23 billion. These giants are often major players in 
>  |   broadcast TV, cable TV, film production, music production, book 
>  |   publishing, magazine publishing, theme parks and retail 
>  |   ope
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