Google Execs Pen ‘Future of Internet Freedom’ Op-Ed

NEW YORK— Eric E. Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, and Jared Cohen, the director of Google Ideas, contributed an op-ed piece to the NY Times about (and titled) “The Future of Internet Freedom,” detailing technological means to overcome harsh online censorship in repressive communities.  

The duo asserts that the next decade will see a five-billion person strong increase in Internet users across the world, primarily in places like Russia, Vietnam, Pakistan and Iran where web access is heavily censored, “places where clicking on an objectionable article can get your entire extended family thrown in prison, or worse,” they write.

The piece then parses specific means of repression — “deep packet inspection” hardware, distributed-denial-of-service attacks, wholesale server slow-downs and others, used by authorities to prevent individuals from accessing certain information, whether it be porn or anti-government tracts.

“And while the technologies of repression are a multibillion-dollar industry, the tools to measure and assess digital repression get only a few million dollars in government and private funding,” they explain. “Private and academic centers like the Citizen Lab in Toronto are building detection tools, but we are still in the early days of mapping the reach of digital censorship.”

Schmidt and Cohen offer several means to combat repression and believe that, with the right public and private investments, a positive, global difference could be made.

“Much of the fight against censorship has been led by the activists of the Internet freedom movement,” the piece continues. “We can join this open source community, whether we are policy makers, corporations or individuals. Money, coding skills or government grants can all make a difference.

“Given the energies and opportunities out there, it’s possible to end repressive Internet censorship within a decade. If we want the next generation of users to be free, we don’t see any other option.”

To read the complete op-ed on N.Y., click here.