Posts tagged ‘Technology’

09/10/2011

Security Vs. Freedom: The Politics of Communications Technology

The debate over public versus private sector ownership and development of communication resources has a loaded and extensive history, which often seems to escape conversations of net neutrality, public investment in broadband , and new TSA security measures in the 21st century.

Armand Mettelart’s “The Emergence of Technical Networks” subtly traces the public-private sector line through the first forms of communicating up to the 19th century. From long-distance communications (the “black cabinet” of French King Louis XI in 1464) to electric telegraphy to the first post office, Mettelart’s history relates the fear-driven policies of the nation states surrounding these communications to the rise of technical networks and communication as vessels of mass opinion.

Today, we have the same conversations about policies of security and freedom to negotiate between public and private sector in the communications field, but we may lack the hindsight to understand the implications of security upon the communications architectures coming into play.

We are familiar with discussions of propaganda, as Dr. Gary Weaver pointed out in “The Evolution of International Communication As A Field of Study.” And as the 10th anniversary of September 11 approaches, we know the tangible ways communication technologies have filled the call for greater security and – some argue – greater infringements on personal freedoms.

Perhaps the greater conversation is the type of politics that communication tools carry, if any. Perhaps wielded by a state obsessed with ultimate control, this is irrelevant. But might we have communication architectures that inevitably lean more toward state control or more toward individual freedom depending on who is controlling them or that inherently carry a certain message to the masses?