Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom

Rebecca MacKinnon. Basic, $26.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-465-02442-1

A global Internet policy advocate, MacKinnon argues in this fascinating and provocative book that it’s time to stop debating whether the Internet is an effective tool for political expression and to move on to the much more urgent question of how digital technology can be structured, governed, and used to maximize the good it can do in the world and minimize the evil. The first step in such a process involves building broader public awareness and participation; individuals must stop thinking of themselves as passive consumers of the Internet and start acting like citizens of the Internet, or “netizens.” Some activists have urged that individuals should build their own networked intellectual commons rather than relying on the Internet. In 2011, Access Now, an Internet freedom advocacy group, drafted the Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet, advocating 10 principles, ranging from universality and equality, accessibility, and rights and social justice to diversity and network equality. Embracing this document, MacKinnon forcefully and passionately urges us to stake out our Internet rights before governments or corporations completely take those rights away from us. (Feb.)