Professor Ian Brown
Former Research Fellow
Professor Ian Brown was Professor of Information Security and Privacy at the OII. His research is focused on surveillance, privacy-enhancing technologies, and Internet regulation.
Hillary Clinton is right to say “the choices we make today will determine what the Internet looks like in the future”. The US government can have a long-term impact by supporting the development and use of technology in tune with her vision of the “freedom to connect”.
Such technology would make it easy for individuals to debate, organise and protest online without making it trivial for government spies to monitor and suppress those activities. It would widely distribute control, rather than concentrate it in government or corporate hands that can easily choose to extinguish speech — as Amazon did in throwing WikiLeaks off their servers.
It would certainly not come with surveillance functionality built in – as the US, UK and many other western governments require of Internet routers and telephone exchanges and would like to extend to social media sites.
In short: Clinton needs to make sure the Internet’s future public spaces look more like Tahrir Square and less like Tiananmen Square.