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Internet Astroturf 3.0 -- Internet as Oz Series Part 3
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Mon, 2012-10-01 13:02
Pro-piracy interests have been organizing globally to head off and defeat future anti-piracy legislation (like SOPA/PIPA), IP treaties (ACTA) and property rights enforcement, all while claiming to represent "the Internet" and all its users, when they do not. They collectively represent pro-piracy special interests.
They hijack popular political buzz-words like "Internet Freedom" and "innovation," to distract people from their fringe anti-property views and to simulate broad mainstream political support.
("Astroturf" in a public policy context connotes artificial grassroots, simply proclaiming to be something one is not in order to gain broader political support.)
This analysis spotlights the political interests and strategy of global pro-piracy interests. It also answers several key questions:
What unites pro-piracy special interests?
Pro-piracy special interests are united in the common belief that users and groups of any kind should not have to pay, or ask for permission, to use others' intellectual property online, because permission and payment to use intellectual property limits the sharing, creativity and innovation of others.
Who are the top ten Internet astroturf 3.0 players?
If this is Internet astroturf 3.0, what was 1.0 and 2.0?
Internet astroturf 1.0 (~2000-2006):
It originated with Richard Stallman's Free Software movement which asserts users should not have to pay or ask permission to use software. Professor Larry Lessig's books (2000-2006) filled out and popularized this "free" thinking and the student free culture movement helped build academic support and spawned authorship of many books. Professor Lessig founded Creative Commons, and originated the concept of net neutrality (which Tim Wu later named). In 2001, Public Knowledge was founded to bring Internet commons thinking to Washington advocacy. And In 2002, FreePress was founded by Robert McChesney to bring political activism to these issues. (For more background see this link.)
Internet astroturf 2.0 (2006-2012):
It originated with the establishment of FreePress' organization of the SaveTheInternet.com coalition in 2006. It pushed aggressively for net neutrality legislation and regulation of broadband networks. The effort was turbo-charged with Google's strong public lobbying, funding, and in-kind support for net neutrality regulation and open spectrum rules. The effort leveraged Web 2.0 social media technology to magnify and amplify the anti-property online message. "Net neutrality" and a "free and open Internet" were the chosen political buzzwords of 2.0.
Internet astroturf 3.0 (2012-)
The September 18th 2012 Internet Blackout protest that doomed SOPA and PIPA birthed 3.0. Professor Lessig's Creative Commons promoted an online petition: "Don't Censor the Net." Google blogged: "Don't Censor the Web." and in opposing the EU's new privacy plan Google charged it would "break the Internet." Since the Internet blackout, pro-piracy interests have vastly expanded their Astroturf operation globally with the addition of the Internet Defense League, Google Take Action, the Internet Association, the i2Coalition, the Declaration of Internet Freedom, and CCIA's Foundation for Innovation and Internet Freedom and Disruptive Competition Project. "Internet freedom" and "innovation" appear to be the new chosen political buzzwords for 3.0.
What's the main difference with Internet Astroturf 3.0?
The main change besides the additional organizations catalogued above, is the new astroturf strategy of maximally leveraging global organization and scale.
Since the Internet, social media, and Google Translate all scale globally like nothing before, the Internet astroturf 3.0 effort is cleverly leveraging this powerful natural technological advantage to advance their pro-piracy interests globally.
Moreover, since the Internet has minimal boundaries, organizing globally enables the aggregation of fringe or special interests dispersed around the world and the focusing of them at the appropriate time to appear much larger and more broad-based politically online than they really are. A global focus also provides more opportunities, and a more consistent activist calendar, to maintain organizing momentum.
Google Ideas, Google's Think/Do Tank, led by former State Department political appointees with recent experience in pioneering digital diplomacy, can be expected to be the brainchild and a lead orchestrator of this new global Internet astroturf 3.0 strategy.
Lastly, the global strategy dovetails with the unifying techtopian goal to use technology to "change the world."
What are the main political techniques of Internet Astroturf 3.0?
The main political technique is to polarize the debate to frame their side as wonderfully for saving the Internet and the other side as despicably for breaking the Internet. They are valiantly standing up for freedom of speech, whereas property interests are selfishly for government and corporate censorship.
Google is the master of political polarization. Just last week Google Chairman Schmidt said "Google stands for innovation as opposed to patent wars." Previously he polarized that Google was for openness and Apple closedness.
The second political technique is buzzword blackmail. Internet astroturf 3.0 is for "Mom and apple pie" terms that everyone is for like: freedom, openness, innovation, sharing, free speech, and democracy. Their opponents are for horrible things: censorship of free speech, breaking the Internet, discrimination, blocking, impairing, denying etc.
The third political technique is to deceive by politically redefining commonly-understood terms to in practice mean the exact opposite.
What are Internet astroturf 3.0's three grand deceptions?
Pro-piracy political interests are perpetrating three grand deceptions of the public via Internet astroturf 3.0 to advance their political agenda.
All of these deceptions are necessary to make pro-piracy interests' political agenda more palatable to the political mainstream.
Internet as Oz Series
Part 1: "The New Internet Association's Back Story"
Part 2: "Top False Claims of the New Internet Association"