Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Enemy Of Your Enemy Is Your Friend

Technology evolves at the speed of light, while most of us lumber along with multiple gadgets and distractions. Do you worry that your Twitter account isn't interfaced with your Facebook Page? Are your photos lost somewhere up in the cloud? Do you spend every waking moment checking your messages and updating your status?

Recurring nightmares of being stranded on an island with an obsolete laptop, Windows Vista and a flip phone convince us it won't be long before we are left behind like the woolly mammouth.  Technology is in the driver's seat. We fret it will soon take over our minds and control the world.

Despots in Iran and Communists in China want to take over the minds of people and control the world. People in these places who oppose regimes will be censored, tortured and killed if they fail to conform to oppressive and tyrannical government policies.

Nazila Fathi is a reporter who barely escaped from government forces seeking to squash her efforts to shine light on the fraudulent elections in Iran last June. She lives now in exile but is able to continue her journalism about the escalating situation because of the Internet and creative use of technology by people still there. "Bluetooth" has become a verb. "A protester Bluetooths a video clip to others nearby, and they do the same. Suddenly, if the authorities want to keep the image from escaping the scene, they must confiscate hundreds or thousands of phones and cameras," she says. Information is able to go AWOL and reach Fathi's notebook and ultimately the pages of the New York Times.

In China, government hacks trying to collect information about human rights activists from Google's network suffered a surprise power outage. Google, an American corporation, has taken a stand for civil rights. If China is going to censor its pipes, peek in to it's files and black out topics like "Tiananmen Square," then Google is gonna pick up its ball and go home. We hear cheering in the streets. Google unplugged the People's Republic!

The same technology we fear may control us is fighting authoritarian regimes that fight to control us.

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