The Eyes That Watch

Freedom Versus Security In The Age of Cyber Life

Everything we do on the Internet is monitored. Every website knows something about you based on the information contained within the browser. Your information could be leaked from one website to another at any point in time. The government is also pushing out centralized identities in order for it to track netizens.

Original Architecture Versus Current Architecture

The original architecture of the Internet is based on anonymous identities. It means that any netizen is allowed to go on the Internet fairly anonymously. The current Internet is largely based on your identity: your phone is tied to your identity, your computer is tied to your identity – in order to facilitate user friendly surfing behaviors. So it means that now if somebody were to hack Google, Apple, or Microsoft then they could get a lot of data out of you.

Four Ways To Regulation – MALS

Lessig states that there are four ways to regulate. 1) Architecture [nature], 2) Law, 3) Social Norms, 4) Markets.


This is the code of the Internet. Initially the code of the Internet was written with an open minded approach. Possibly because it grew out from defense, went to universities and then from there it spread. My first Internet experience was on a 28.8K Banksia modem obtained because my older brother got a dial-up connection from university.

Lessig overarching thoughts on the code that ran the Internet was that it evolved from Code 1.0 to Code 2.0 and that evolution was largely in security controls that are in place in order to track users for whatever reason. Corporations want to track users in order to provide differentiated services and governments want to track users to check they’re not engaging in nefarious activities.


This is an obvious one, we should think. But the laws are old and the Internet is new. The law didn’t factor in virtual space – it only dealt with physical. So the laws need to be updated or re-interpreted when issues come up. But, the law still is one of the ways to regulate cyberspace.

There have been many amendments/new laws to regulate the Internet.

Social Norms

The Internet has its own set of social norms. These social norms are modifiers of behavior. Human beings are social creatures so these norms influence them. A social norm on a forum dedicated to sick children might have a lot of support as compared to social norms on a YouTube channel which are more likely to have stupid/funny/disgusting comments.


The market regulates things based on price. Expensive items can only be purchased by millionaires, billionaires, or drug dealers. Cheap items can be purchased by anyone.

The Future

There are a lot of concerns and arguments around the freedom of the Internet, and are we heading towards a more ‘regulated’ space? There are two types of regulation 1) Government, and 2) Private. The private regulation is done companies by Google and Facebook – who do have as much information on us – more than anyone else has had on us than ever before.

Government versus Corporations

Kevin Mandia stated the difference between private ‘regulation’ and government ‘regulation’ is quite simple: the government can come knocking on your door using M16’s and a M1A2 SEP (battle tank) – Google is highly unlikely to do that. The worse thing Google might do is a) perve at your data, b) re-sell it, c) lose it to hackers.

In this regard it is better to trust the corporations instead of the government. In fact a lot of this argument can be boiled down to simply: how much do you trust your government? That could vary based on a) historical performance of your government, b) your personal encounters with law enforcement.












%d bloggers like this: