Zittrain zings St. Anne’s!

Jonathan Zittrain (OII) gave the introductory addresses, noting that the conference was primarily to mark the launch of first set of ONI results – the first detailed academic studies of filtering worldwide. He talked about how the Internet was founded without measurement built in – i.e. it’s different from other networks in that you can’t see who/how many connections (i.e. as compared to subscribers on a mobile network or AOL etc), BBC/CNN even have an idea (through Nielsen etc) – but “there’s no Internet to ask” (and even things like IP addresses are imprecise – Yemen uses a single IP address for all connections!).

In particular, though, he drew attention to an interesting illustration of how networks are understood. He quoted from the policy statement on the wifi instruction card:

Please note that the network is monitored continuously and any illegal activity results in a machine being disconnected. Your attention is particularly drawn to the following:

[Peer to peer ban]

The illegal downloading of copyrighted, illegal, or pornographic material thorugh any mechanism is not permitted. Any machine detected downloading such material is automatically disconnected from the network

Zittrain’s key point here was that the use of the passive voice was fascinating – ‘the network is monitored’ (by whom?) and computers ‘will be automatically disconnected’ (the Internet death penalty).

Good catch!

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