By: Carlos Diaz Barriga
Can you hear me now?
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 29, 2015
This is the first tweet from Edward Snowden’s recently opened Twitter account. The tweet, while humorous in nature, is a clear defiance to all world leaders who seek to control the information of their nation.
Powers and Jablonsky argue that “new transnational governance structures enhance the vitality of existing states by insuring the viability of debate within democracies while limiting the influence of special interests.” But what governance structure can control the power of the internet?
With the internet, information flows now appear to be in control of the citizens. Technology overrides nation-states in certain parts of the world; diasporas have created endless transnational online communities.
Consider the Millenial generation, who has grown up thinking everything on the internet should be free (music, movies, news, etc.) and accessible. They were the first users and creators of the system, it’s not easy to suddenly establish parameters as to what they can or can’t do.
Perhaps what states should be focusing on is how the public defines “information sovereignty”. For a lot of the population, free internet means endless access to funny Vines and YouTube videos (as the “Cute Cat” theory suggests). To keep them happy, don’t restrict what they already enjoy. Western governments are already pursuing some version of an intranet anyway (Powers and Jablonsky). The population will accept what they perceive as “just” control (i.e. making illegal music and movies downloads punishable).
The problem, for the nation-states, lies with the Edward Snowden and the Julian Assange types. Both are considered, by some, as heroes of freedom of speech. Snowden, in an interview with The Guardian in May, stated:
“The idea that they can lock us out and there will be no change is no longer tenable. Everyone accepts these programmes [NSA] were not effective, did not keep us safe and, even if they did, represent an unacceptable degradation of our rights.”
And Snowden is not alone; he amassed more than a million followers in less than 24 hours.