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BLOG: Go free chat! Disruptive services outrun Big Brother

Galen Gruman | Aug. 26, 2013
When autocrats try to control a new communications medium, you know that medium is good for society.

All of this is why what may appear as a David-and-Goliath story of tech pioneers outmaneuvering the big but stodgy establishment is not so simple. The chat providers need to make money, and that will lead them to the same calculations as any other communications business: cooperate with the government to maintain access to the networks they rely on.

But their existence complicates the control desired by old-guard telcos and Big Brother governments, so they should be encouraged. Even if governments manage to corral them, there's a period in which these services are less controlled than the traditional ones, and thus a venue for freer communications (from a political point of view). We saw that in Arab Spring uprisings and in Iran's wave of protests some years ago: Twitter and other social media provided a conduit for communications at a critical time, even if the governments were at some point able to block them.

This may feel all 1960s-radical, and it is in a sense. Work around The Man using the new technologies as they become available, and keep the corporate oligarchs and spy agencies off guard when possible. Just be clear that these technologies are likely to become part of the establishment at some point. It's just what happens.


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