The Internet, Policy & Politics Conferences

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Markwick: The Unlawful Freedom of Communication

Paper presenter: 
Markwick, M., School of Communication, Simon Fraser University

Is the Internet a polis or is it a camp? From the desperate revolution by Twitter on the streets of Tehran to Obama’s web 2.0 electoral triumph, the communication devices in our hands today and the exponentially more powerful devices to come promise a new era of political mobilization. These devices will allow us to know our own minds and act as a body politic in breathtaking ways. Against this temptation to triumphalism stands the transnational project of wiring these same devices for ubiquitous, unblinking state surveillance.

This paper examines the agenda of the Government of Canada, in lock step with its international partners, to convert all personal communications technologies into a latent, ubiquitous surveillance system. The Unlawful Freedom of Communication shows how Canada’s “lawful access” agenda advances the rise of the surveillance regime in the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, and is part of a contest—web 2.0 against “Stasi 2.0”—that will decide whether the digital revolution’s promise of a new birth of freedom may in fact be stillborn.

The paper provides a concise treatment of an edited volume the author is developing for UBC Press. It applies Giorgio Agamben’s biopolitics and Jacques Derrida’s deconstruction to determine, on a close reading of the “securitization” of the Internet, what Politics and Policy are making of the practice of democratic citizenship.

Michael Markwick