TED Talk Review: Tamas Kocsis Examines The Problems Facing Internet Freedom

Other | Wednesday 9th January 2019 | David

Net neutrality and the freedom of the internet have become increasingly pressing issues over the last several years. In his TED Talk, web developer Tamas Kocsis addresses the current threats to internet freedom, and the dangers they pose.

One of the issues he brings up is overregulation, which is exemplified by Article 13 of the European Parliament’s Copyright Protection Law, which, if passed, would require websites to implement a filter to automatically block certain content. Dubbed the ‘meme ban’, Article 13 poses a major threat to freedom of speech, as it restrict user-generated content on social media platforms.

He goes on to describe how Google already receive around one-hundred thousand copyright complaints per hour, making it impossible for their staff to manually examine each case. As a result, most of the complaints are placed through a computer-controlled automated copyright system, which often results in important coverage of major events, such as the conflict in Syria, being mistakenly being flagged and hidden from search engines. Writer Dennis Cooper even had his blog deleted as a result of the automated system falsely determining that it contained copyrighted material, and he lost the draft of a book he was working on as a result. In other words, the automated copyright system is ripe for abuse by powerful entities and corporations, with Article 13 set to make it much worse.

Several major internet service providers, including GitHub and Mozilla, as well as Vint Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee, who were two of the founders of the internet, have strongly opposed Article 13, because of the repercussions it could have for freedom of the web. And even if the bill does not pass, a similar law could still be implemented in the future.

Kocsis' ultimate argument is that in order for the internet to remain truly democratic, it must be controlled by the people, no the government. To try to achieve this goal, he created his own decentralised web-like network called ZeroNet, which was intended to keep the internet open and uncensored. Ironically, ZeroNet was recently banned in China, a country with strict government regulations on what can be shown to the public.In other words, a truly free and open internet may be nothing more than a pip dream, but it is still something worth fighting for.