Speaking For Freedom, Normalizing the Net
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An enduring perspective on the impact of digital technologies argues that these technologies can expand freedom and re-invigorate democracy. Yet, there has always been a contrary, more pessimistic perspective, that pre-Internet power brokers, governments and corporations, will normalize use of digital technologies. This paper argues that despite recent pronouncements of figures such as Hillary Clinton in favor of internet freedom a number of representative governments have, in fact, been taking steps to curtail these freedoms. Here the focus will be on actual or attempted changes , the most significant of which are international in nature, to introduce more restrictive copyright and anti-circumvention measures such as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, recent bilateral trade agreements between the US and other countries, and, in addition, reforms of national legislation. This has lead to a core struggle of the Internet age to balance the demands by powerful forces, state and corporate, for greater protection in the global digital environment with the countervailing demands to ensure that knowledge remains free, in the public domain, and accessible by the maximum number of people.