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Liberty or Safety? Both-or Neither

Different people see different things in the words "global Internet Freedom"

3 min read

On 12 January, Google announced that it had been a victim of sophisticated cyberattacks originating in China. Suspecting that the Chinese government had at the very least been turning a blind eye to the problem, the company announced that it would no longer censor its Chinese search results. This tiff between the biggest country and the biggest Internet company affects 1 billion people, tens of thousands of companies, and hundreds of research institutions. It also sets a problem before the rest of the world: Many countries, including the United States, are now grappling with the question of how to balance freedom and security in the Internet age.

In the United States, Republicans and Democrats took a brief time-out from tearing one another apart over health-care reform to praise Google for its principled stand. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a rousing speech declaring Internet freedom to be a pillar of U.S. foreign policy. Lawmakers called on the Obama administration to do more—and yes, spend more money—to support activists fighting censorship around the world.

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Why the Internet Needs the InterPlanetary File System

Peer-to-peer file sharing would make the Internet far more efficient

12 min read
An illustration of a series
Carl De Torres

When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early 2020, the world made an unprecedented shift to remote work. As a precaution, some Internet providers scaled back service levels temporarily, although that probably wasn’t necessary for countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, which were generally able to cope with the surge in demand caused by people teleworking (and binge-watching Netflix). That’s because most of their networks were overprovisioned, with more capacity than they usually need. But in countries without the same level of investment in network infrastructure, the picture was less rosy: Internet service providers (ISPs) in South Africa and Venezuela, for instance, reported significant strain.

But is overprovisioning the only way to ensure resilience? We don’t think so. To understand the alternative approach we’re championing, though, you first need to recall how the Internet works.

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