Metal, code, flesh: Why we need a ‘Rights of the Internet’ declaration


Chiang Mai, Thailand – “OH $%#@!”, reads the caption under the image depicting a group of protesters wearing Guy Fawkes masks and holding both humorous and denunciatory signs, “The internet is here”. The caption not only conveys the sentiment that drove US congressmen to drop their support of the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) bills, but can also be said to summarise the analysis of the January 18 blackout by several of the most prominent media experts and scholars.   ACTA: The new SOPA?
Larry Downes eloquently describes the January 18 events as “the dramatic introduction of bitroots politics”. In case the leaks, springs and occupations of 2011 left any room for doubt, the recognition of the internet as a political force in itself has moved from academic theoretical discussion to hard tangible reality. Lawrence Lessig portrays this sense of general underlying bewilderment by using the haunting metaphor of “a giant” when describing the web as a political force:   “For the first time ever, the internet had taken on Hollywood extremists and won. And not just in a close fight: the power demonstrated by internet activists was wildly greater than the power Hollywood lobbyists could muster. They had awoken a giant. They had no clue about just how angry that giant could be.”



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