This is the fifth part of my inaugural lecture at City University London, ‘Is Ice Cream Strawberry?’. You can also read part one, part two, part three, and part four.
Corporatisation of the public sphere
The public sphere used to be our territory, but we are failing to protect it online.
The difficulties experienced by Wikileaks last year were the most visible demonstration yet of just how far the corporatisation of the public sphere has become. Some people described it as the beginning of the first Internet war. They’re just being over-dramatic of course, but it was one fight in a whole series of turf wars over who controls online spaces.
We are thankful that our printing presses are not shut down without due process. But from Mastercard and Visa to Apple, Paypal, Amazon and even data visualisation tool Tableau – company after company pulled out of the production chain without a court order in sight.
In that case national security was given as the reason. In other – less publicised – examples relating to other content producers and distributors it has been copyright, where the mere accusation of infringement can lead to legitimate content being taken down. Continue reading