Internet showdown

A note from the editor

Hazel Healy

It struck me as the perfect irony when Google ads about cyber security popped up on my screen as I researched surveillance for this magazine. It was an excellent example of how much we reveal online, and who has access to it.

Now that is not to say that we should all get paranoid, shut down our social network accounts and head for the hills. But seeing as this digital revolution thing is not going away, we need to get our heads around it.

We are living in a time of accelerated innovation. It poses huge challenges – not least to the magazine industry – when digital data, freed of physical substance, can be shared as easily as ideas. It’s a time of great promise – the global democratization of information and knowledge, new ways to network, organize and innovate.

But we don’t know, of course, where these new technologies will lead us. It won’t all be good news. Over the next 20 years, advances in open-design and 3-D printing promise to democratize and localize manufacturing. There will be environmental gains, and it will slash the import bill for Majority World nations – but it may also wipe out millions of jobs.

We also need to be wary of overstating the impact of new technology. Open access to government data, for example, can empower communities but it will not automatically confer power over decision-making, particularly for the 60 per cent in the world without internet access.

This is the case for 97 per cent of people in Mali, the focus of Jeremy Keenan’s exposé on US interference in North Africa. Keenan reveals how the US and other Western countries have been sponsoring terrorism, which is then blamed on Islamic militancy. His shocking report provides important background to a developing news story.

This month’s magazine also has two prominent human rights campaigners, Peter Tatchell and Joyce Arthur, taking opposite views on a thorny issue: should hate speech be a crime?

Hazel Healy for the New Internationalist co-operative.

The big story

Donough O'Malley

Internet showdown: why digital freedom matters - to us all

New Internationalist co-editor Hazel Healy meets the free software hackers protecting your bits from cybersnooping governments and marketers.

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One Saturday morning, a few months back, I caught a bus to a showcase of the future. Alighting at London’s Russell Square, I walked through an internal courtyard that locked out the September sunshine, into a drab hotel. Picking their way through tourists with improbably large suitcases were entrepreneurs, programmers, crypto-anarchists and anti-statists – 99 per cent male. Event organizer Amir Taaki billed them as ‘explorers of ...


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Charlie Harvey outlines the righteous path to internet liberation

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So happy together: Algeria’s then president Abdelaziz Bouteflika with George W Bush in 2001.

How the US has been sponsoring terrorism in the Sahara

Jeremy Keenan uncovers the shocking, murky background to the current conflict in Mali.

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Off the net, into the streets. Anonymous protest against police brutality in San Francisco.

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Who’s online where, who has your data and how much are they spending to get it?

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Nadim Kobeissi tells us about ways to protect our communication from prying eyes.

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Chris 3D-scanned himself with a Kinect scanner, which can be found in X-box video games. Easy if you know how.

This is for everyone

"Chris Thorpe gives his take on the impact of open-source tech on governance and manufacturing."

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Southern Exposure - Zhuang Wubin

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Tibetan calm and karma, photographed by Zhuang Wubin.

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