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Moglen on Freedom Box and making a free net

Feb 17, 2011, 15:35 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jonathan Corbet)

"Eben Moglen is usually an inspiring speaker, and his keynote at FOSDEM 2011 did not disappoint. Free software remains, as always, at the core of his talks, but he has adopted a wider political vision and thinks that the community should do the same. Our freedom, he said, depends on reengineering the network to replace vulnerable, centralized services with alternatives which resist government control.

"The publication of Larry Lessig's Code, Eben said, drew our attention to the fact that, in the world we live in, code increasingly functions as law. Code does the work of the state, but it can also serve revolution against the state. We are seeing an enormous demonstration of the power of code now, he said. At the same time, there is a lot of attention being paid to the publication of Evgeny Morozov's The Net Delusion, which makes the claim that the net is being co-opted to control freedom worldwide. The book is meant to be a warning to technology optimists. Eben is, he said, one of those optimists. The lesson he draws from current events is that the right net brings freedom, but the wrong net brings tyranny.

"We have spent a lot of time making free software. In the process, we have joined forces with other elements of the free culture world. Those forces include people like Jimmy Wales, but also people like Julian Assange. Wikipedia and Wikileaks, he said, are two sides of the same coin. At FOSDEM, he said, one could see "the third side" of the coin. We are all people who have organized to change the world without creating new hierarchies in the process. At the end of 2010, Wikileaks was seen mainly as a criminal operation. Events in Tunisia changed that perception, though. Wikileaks turns out to be an attempt to help people learn about their world. Wikileaks, he said, is not destruction - it's freedom."

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