A recent article from the Carnegie Council contains an interview with Evgeny Morozov, the author of a book titled The Net Delusion, and asks if technology and the Internet have helped promote democracy in areas of turmoil, or if they have made things worse? According to Mr. Morozov, we are making mistakes that need to be corrected if technology can be used for good instead of evil.
First, he says, we must take off the blinders that assume that all technology is a good thing. There is no cyber utopia, and we must acknowledge the downside of online communities and interaction.
An example of this is the use of photos uploaded to Flickr and other social sites by Iranians in 2009 during their protests. The government used the photos and asked people to identify the protestors, leading to a crackdown.
Another trendy topic is that surrounding Wikileaks. While we condemn countries like China for limiting access to information through the Web, our government is trying to establish control over cyberspace as well, according to Morozov.
Governments will continue to impose censorship, he states, but will start adopting new and more sophisticated tactics. Instead of blunt censorship, expect to see targeted and surreptitious approaches to controlling the flow of information.
The use of technology to undermine and subvert communication can lead to a "dark side" of the Web that is only now beginning to become understood.