The danger of the tethered internet

So, this is how it becomes possible to destroy the Internet, through infiltration and entrapment in a pattern familiar from the old frontier days of the Wild West. Corporations buy the most important patches of land and then control everything built on it as well as all traffic going through it. In this case, crucial appliances are created that entice the user to gravitate toward them. In the second step, generative layers are built upon these appliances. In the third step, Web browsers are adapted to what have now become essential and natural elements of the Internet. Finally, owners of the original appliances can exercise control in a variety of ways.

The above is from a recommended article on the three dominant ideologies of the internet:

* Article: Speedism, boxism, and markism: Three ideologies of the Internet. by Jan Nolin. First Monday, Volume 15, Number 10 – 4 October 2010

In summary (Abstract):

“The Internet is one of man’s greatest inventions. As all transformative technologies, it leaves a stamp on society, social action and values. This is actually a case of the Internet and society mutually constructing each other. Therefore, as the Internet is in constant transformation, social values rebound and impact on further development. This paper is concerned with systems of values grouped around core ideas, here described as ideologies, which continuously renegotiates the development of the Internet. Three basic ideas are identified as underpinning the development of the packet switching system during the 1960s. It is argued that the historical development of the ARPANET, the Internet and the World Wide Web, as well as current developments, are all variations of these three ideas: the distributed network, the envelope and the identifier. It is maintained that these are translated into value systems, ideologies, held by different social groups. These three ideologies are conceptualised as speedism, boxism and markism. These are discussed in relation to various trends in past and current development of the Internet. This paper is also concerned with concepts articulated by Jonathan Zittrain in his book The future of the Internet and how to stop it (2008), in particular the generative Internet and tethered appliances.”

Part One: The key argument: the danger of a tethered internet

Jan Nolin:

“The identification of appliances using the tethered strategy is, from the vantage point of this article, both interesting and disturbing. It is an idea which does not naturally follow any of the basic three ideas. I would characterise it as an attempt to place a layer upon the Internet which is not naturally connected to the Internet.

So, this is how it becomes possible to destroy the Internet, through infiltration and entrapment in a pattern familiar from the old frontier days of the Wild West. Corporations buy the most important patches of land and then control everything built on it as well as all traffic going through it. In this case, crucial appliances are created that entice the user to gravitate toward them. In the second step, generative layers are built upon these appliances. In the third step, Web browsers are adapted to what have now become essential and natural elements of the Internet. Finally, owners of the original appliances can exercise control in a variety of ways.

While the distributed net in theory would seem more or less indestructible, here is a flaw, it can be destroyed by introducing the decentralised network idea on another level. If this corrupted layer of appliances becomes standardised and fundamental for Web browsing, than it has created a decentralised network that controls the distributed network. In a further step, one could imagine a centralised network connecting to the decentralised network in the form of a coalition of the key owners of the bottom appliances or policy–makers with the aim to regulate.

As Zittrain argues:

– “Generative networks like the Internet can be partially controlled, and there is important work to be done to enumerate the ways in which governments try to censor the Net. But the key move to watch is a sea change in control over the endpoint: lockdown the device, and network censorship and control can be extraordinarily reinforced. The prospect of tethered appliances and software as service permits major regularatory intrusions to be implemented as minor technical adjustments to code or requests to service providers.”

The tethered strategy aggregates a number of negative aspects of the envelope ideology and the identifier ideology. Together, they can conspire to destroy the distributed Internet. Since the Internet is fundamentally defined by the distributed network, this would be the end of the Internet. Something else, and exceptionally different, would come in its place.

The Internet can be seen as an artifact that is shaped by social action and also, in return, influences the structure of social action. This paper has been concerned with the different value systems that are involved when various social groups continuously shape the Internet. I have identified three constitutive ideas of the Internet: the distributed network, the envelope and the identifier. I discussed the key contributions in the development of the Internet and World Wide Web as variations of these different ideas.

Building on the three constitutive ideas, I constructed a definition of the Internet. I also suggested that the constitutive ideas could be seen as different value systems, each built on a core idea. I discussed the three ideologies of speedism, boxism and markism.

It is quite natural that different social groups with different ideologies continuously renegotiate the shape of the Internet. If the Internet is to be developed as a rich and flexible innovation, it is important that representatives of different ideologies continue to make their impression on the Internet in order to counterbalance each other. I identified negative scenarios mainly when one ideology would be allowed to dominate. A heavy emphasis on speedism supplies us with an ever developing anarchist Internet that societies have lost control of. Similarly, with the dominance of boxism, it becomes too controlled. In a scenario where markism takes a leading role, there may be too much space for artificial intelligence to navigate the Web instead of humans. Other versions of markism entails the creation of efficient instruments for the legal system as well as corporate actors to police any kind of major or minor Internet misdemeanour or indiscretion, leaving elementary privacy challenged.

The historical review that I have presented seems to suggest that the presence of different value systems have a soothing and balancing effect on the Internet. Development of identifier ideas serve to supply some kind of regulation that can counter some of the freewheeling force generated by speedism. At the same time, the envelope idea of adding more layers has the potential of facilitating both privacy and external control. The creative development of extending the distributed Internet counters the controlling ambitions visible both within boxism and markism.

There are a number of possible scenarios in which this balance can be dramatically shifted. Some of these are difficult to track and identify as specific threats to the balance, since trends are introduced slowly and may become distinctly visible only when it is too late. Zittrain discusses one such scenario in which strong corporate actors actually can corrupt the idea of the Internet itself. It is important for Internet researchers, legislators and Web developers to be aware of the potential of other kinds of threats that dramatically shift the balance of ideas. Regardless of which, Zittrain’s suggestion of transforming Internet users into participants that share the responsibility of shaping the Internet is valuable. For the future of the Internet we need all become “netizens”.”

Part Two: Details about the three ideologies

The basic ideas of the Internet have stimulated the development of three value systems intent on developing the Internet in different directions, implying a series of technological choices. This perspective is congruent with those Internet analysts, reviewed at the outset of this paper, who saw the Internet as a metaphor or as architecture. I differ from most of them in two ways. First, I place a stronger emphasis on the importance of the technology developing through interaction. The technology changes the users (and society), but use and design initiatives will also transform the artifact. Second, the Internet is developed dynamically through a fundamental conflict between different value systems. As a consequence, different groups with different interests will use and renegotiate this technology in different ways.

The three basic ideas of Internet technology supply us with different opportunities and quite often there is a conflict between what seem to be implied by one system of ideas and another.

The three basic ideas of Internet technology supply us with different opportunities and quite often there is a conflict between what seem to be implied by one system of ideas and another.

The ideology of speedism

“The distributed network as an ideology is all about expansion, speed and efficiency: speedism.

With speedism, the Internet is developed through an endless creative retransformation of technological instruments to further the free flow of information.

With this value system, there is a concern with how information is efficiently carried from one point to another. This ideology is about a particular kind of flow, one that is free in its choice of transportation. This value system is both proactive and reactive. It wants to further increased speed and efficiency. There is also a need to react against strategies, built on other value systems that serve to restrict the free flow of information. The distributed network is built on the idea of a flow of information that cannot be stopped. According to this vision, the Internet is a dynamic web with a multitude of different forms of interaction. All forms of centralized control are rejected, and indeed, actively undermined. Thereby, creative hotspots are created in order to stay one step ahead of various control mechanisms, such as legislation. For the followers of speedism, it becomes crucial to conserve the different ideas that are associated to the end–to–end principle, as these serve to lessen the influence of layering and identifying.

With speedism, innovations are constantly transforming the character of the Internet, allowing technological change to develop at its own pace: exceedingly quick. In fact, from this ideological standpoint it can be argued that any attempt at regulation will only serve to spur on and accelerate technological transformation.

For instance, as the centralised file sharing institution of Napster was neutralised, Gnutella and similar distribution systems was built on the idea of the distributed network (Alderman, 2002). In other words, the regulation of the centralised technology served to accelerate transformation into a technology built on the distributed network that could not be controlled.

Following this development, new instruments of regulation were developed in the form of detection software. However, simultaneously BitTorrent technology was being developed that made legal detection work much more difficult. This is a file sharing concept that even more expands on the idea of the distributed network as well as another layer of the envelope idea. As the same envelope can be retrieved from a number of different users, the queuing problem is avoided according to the same model once developed in the packet switching system.

The response from those attempting to control file sharing became the development of indirect detection honed in on torrent file sharing. This, once again, led to accelerated technological transformation and the development of social networking systems such as OneSwarm. With this technology, envelopes are constantly reidentified as they travel in the network, making legal detection work exceedingly difficult. This development shows how speedism can be strengthened as an influential value system within Internet development through a creative manipulation of the envelope and the identifier. These devices are used to improve speed, accessibility and privacy.

The ideology of boxism

The ideology of boxism has several characteristics that are at opposites with speedism.

With boxism, the Internet is developed through layering and aggregation of resources to portals and appliances.

Boxism is about control and uniformity. By placing all data in the same kind of uniform package, it becomes possible to organize information in an effective manner. In addition, as every piece of information is wrapped in the same kind of package, they also lose identity. The envelope idea is everywhere on the Internet: layers, applications, social networking sites, folders, etc. Boxism is a move toward sameness and anonymity. There is an interesting tension in this ideology since it stands for both control and absence of control. There is no control or interest in the content of the envelope. All aspects of control relate to the form of the envelope. According to this vision, the Internet is square, reliable and predictable. People interact with the Internet through modules situated at a well controlled layer. At this module, the users can personalise according to their tastes and interests. Interaction is controlled and regulated outside the modules, much less so inside them.

Appliances are boxes, envelopes, containing other boxes. Traditionally, there is the computer desktop with different folders that contain more folders. More recently, there has been a surge of integrated technologies such as smartphones containing a wealth of appliances (apps). Another example is the portal technology of for instance IBM’s Websphere or Microsoft’s Sharepoint, in which the user’s personal home page can be designed with different applications, boxes, called portlets. Various social media such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr etc. are all expressions of boxism. Regardless of which, the appliances are usually locked in a certain way. While Zittrain (2008) sees this as a corruption of the generative character of the Internet, Lessig (2008) signals some optimism that these “sharing economies” and “hybrid economies” will revitalize the “Read/Write” cultures at the expense of “Read/Only” cultures.

As alluded to earlier, these appliance–making technologies become a fundamental threat to the innovation of the Internet if they are transformed into a standardised top layer of non–generative or semi–generative character.

Boxism fits well with the needs of corporate actors and policy–makers. By adding a module landscape as a layer, the Internet becomes more predictable and regulated. With more transparent patterns of Internet behaviour, commercial exploitation becomes much easier. With this ideology, the chaotic and creative character of the distributed Internet is something that needs to be tamed. Portals and appliances create safe areas, guided tours of the wild wild Internet. As Zittrain (2008) suggests, people have started to move away from risks associated with the Internet toward appliances with guaranteed functionality that are continuously updated to guarantee maintained security. He is particularly concerned with tethered appliances that keep the user bound (on a leash) to a vendor. The right to updates are exclusive to the vendor and user privileges are kept low for security reasons. In a sense, these are the purified artifacts of the very thing that Lessig (1999) warns of, enclosures facilitated by the coding of business lobbyists, politicians, lawyers and programmers. At the same time, they can be seen as platforms for free flow of information, for the sharing and hybrid economies that Lessig (2008) welcomes.

With boxism, the distributed network and the identifier can be used for purposes of control. Zittrain [10] examined the way that tethered appliances can be used for mass surveillance as well as targeted eavesdropping. The democratic potential of the distributed Internet, in which everyone can publish as well as have access to all other publications, is thus turned on its head: everybody active on the Internet can be monitored. With boxism it is a particular surveillance that is of interest, monitoring patterns of usage, specifically concerning appliances. In other words, one wants to know how the packets are moved (not what is in them). This information is of use both for the development of new appliances and for regulation. There is less interest in identifying the content of information accessed and which individuals access what. For that, I have to examine to the ideology of markism.

The ideology of markism

The ideology of markism is a contrast to boxism. To point to something is to identify it and give it a specific identity. Associated to this ideology is also the idea of sorting, to place information in different order and to match different specific sets of information to each other.

According to markism, the Internet is developed with the help of increasingly sophisticated software built on the principles of marking, identifying and processing data packets, ultimately with the help of artificial intelligence.

Markism presents us with a seductive set of values that serves to make the surfing experience more safe, fun and effective. The introduction of the World Wide Web certainly entailed a decisive push in this direction. As such, the balance between what the human and what the computer does are shifted. The key question is: how much work should a computer do for us? Markism also stands for visualizing, emphasizing and positioning something in relation to something else. It is as much concerned with showing the uniqueness of something as boxism is about making something uniform. Important is also the idea of fixating, putting a piece of information in a specific place. This can be seen to be the contrast to the ideology of speedism, which emphasises flow. According to the ideology of markism, most information can (and should) be processed with the help of markup languages. Computers mediate the Internet experience for us as users. In the near future, advanced artificial intelligence can in many ways appear superior to humans when processing, comparing, measuring, revising and evaluating information in a wide variety of different ways. There is undeniable power involved in owning these processes. It would seem to be an essential human and political dilemma to decide how much of this power is to be given away to machines. The ideology of markism promotes far–reaching powers to smart computers.

In the following sections, I will discuss some of the basic conflicts concerning the three ideologies and certain problems that could occur if any one of these would dominate the future development of the Internet.

Part Three: What happens when these ideologies dominate?

When speedism dominates

Speedism, taken to its extreme, rejects the controlling ambitions of boxism and the personalisation of markism. The vision of the Internet becomes one of a boundless network, ever expanding and impossible to control. A given user will continuously be able to access new technology that will circumvent attempts at regulating and identifying Internet communication. Attempts at regulation would only serve to initiate more rapid technological change. Participation would be totally anonymous and new creative functions would be continuously layered onto the ever expanding Internet.

While there certainly are many positive connotations to be found in this vision, there are many drawbacks. This is an Internet impossible to police. Criminal networks would be able to utilise the Internet both as an instrument for organising scams, thefts and other illegal activities and for coordinating resources. Users of child pornography, corporate spies and terrorists could create their own sheltered communication networks. Copyrighted material would be routinely swapped with guaranteed impunity. As the other ideologies are reduced in importance, it would be also an Internet that would be difficult to navigate. Controlling institutions such as W3C and ICANN would have grave difficulties in upholding standards, ultimately with an Internet loosing coherence. Search engines would have difficulties in producing relevance rankings. The knowledgeable hackers would hold positions of power as they would know where the backdoors of dominating systems could be found. Control is at the endpoint, but many users will be unable to assemble the resources they need for safe and efficient Internet experiences.

Vastly different interest groups can emphasise different dimensions of this ideology. I will make a distinction between four different versions of this ideology.

First, the ideology of the generative network, as formulated by Zittrain. Included in this perspective are the ideals associated with the end–to–end principle. Layering should contain a minimum of functionality and instead distribute control to the endpoints. The Internet should remain open for all perspectives and applications as long as they do not weaken the basic generative character of the Internet. This is also an image of an ever evolving Internet that never settles down into a finished, polished product. There is much to admire about this position. I do, however, feel that it must be seen to be a perspective within speedism, thus ignoring certain needs, arguments and claims that are vital for the followers of boxism and markism. Quite possibly, this ideology needs to be tempered by boxism and markism to survive. Indeed, Zittrain himself introduces the idea of “the generative pattern”, that the innovation that is successful through openness is doomed to exploitation and closure.

Second, the ideology of independent cyberspace. This influential set of ideas have been most eloquently formulated by John Perry Barlow in his famous “A declaration of the independence of cyberspace” (Barlow, 1996). He states: “On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather … You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear … Cyberspace does not lie within your borders … We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station or birth … Your legal concept of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us. They are all based on the matter, and there is no matter here.” (Barlow, 1996)

With this ideology, cyberspace becomes a global nation with its own rules.

Third, the ideology of piracy. This is closely related to the ideology of the independent cyberspace and could perhaps be regarded as a subset of that. This is a vision in which it is taken for granted that new forms of digital technology make copyright legislation meaningless. As information wants to be free, regulation is seen as outdated and market mechanisms out of sync with the information society. For instance, it is possible to track the development of a youth oriented piracy culture which has moved into the realm of politics. For instance, Sweden hosts the infamous file sharing site The Pirate Bay, as well as an ideological think tank called the Pirate Bureau and a political party: The Pirate Party. The latter has a political platform which suggests file sharing to be made legal (and encouraged), the patents system abolished and privacy guaranteed (Li, 2009). In the Swedish election to the European Parliament, May 2009, the Pirate Party received a staggering 7.1 percent of the electoral vote. This is a fascinating example of how the technology in a concrete way can make politics.

Fourth, the ideology of the corporate network. Historically, it is possible to position the cyber libertarianism discussed by Winner (1997), entailing commercial freedom, as corporate variation of this ideology. However, as unrestricted freedom has turned out to enable massive instances of copyright intrusion, most mainstream corporate actors strive for increased regulation in order to transform the Internet into a controlled marketplace. Corporate actors are thus more likely to push some kind of boxism (see below). Still, there are a number of corporate actors, mostly smaller, that have strategically utilised the spectacular free flow of the distributed Internet in order to spread out their products for free or almost for free. With this strategy, an added goodwill value, economic or promotional, is generated with new creative methods. For instance, if you have produced an amateur video with five million views on YouTube, there are ways of cashing in on a substantial social capital. Some of the ideas associated to the financial model of the long tail (Anderson, 2004) — creating huge profit through small individual sales of a large catalogue of products — can also be placed in this category.

When boxism dominates

With this ideology, the dominating vision is one of a controlled and well regulated Internet. New layers have been introduced that carries central power, weakening the architectural idea of endpoint to endpoint free–flowing communication. As speedism has been tempered, the pace of technological change has slowed down. The dominance of boxism over speedism can be summarized in the words by Lessig [11]: “The pressure to protect the controlled is increasingly undermining the scope for the free.” The Internet has settled down into stable and predictable functions or platforms that can be utilised for flourishing commercial ventures. As big businesses develop their individual boxes, the universalised ambitions of markism takes a back seat.

With boxism, there are clear criteria on what you can and cannot do. The Internet consists of a great number of modules and for different kinds of information practices, people move from module to module. Each module can be personalised, adapted to the preferences of the user and at times it becomes a fluid process to move between different modules. While there are other ways of experiencing the Internet in a more raw fashion, these powerful and personalised modules have seduced people into almost exclusively utilising them in their consumption of the Internet. Still, as the content of the traffic is anonymous in character, there is still great freedom for the individual within certain boundaries. Individuals send envelopes to each other with invitations to experience interaction in each other’s modules. “Visit me tonight, there is a party in my module.”

Building on Zittrain (2008), this is a first step into the “tethered” Internet, discussed further below. In any case, it is the favoured ideology within the corporate Internet culture. “Cloud computing” (running the program from the Web rather than on the PC), social media, portals and eLearning platforms are all manifestations of this ideology. Users become seduced into exclusively utilising the Internet through these boxes of aggregated content that they can personalise to our heart’s content.

Another idea for weakening the end–to–end principle is the so–called “active network architecture” (Tennenhouse and Wetherall, 2007). The idea is to replace the anonymous and passive packets with active capsules that contain miniaturized programs that interact with each network point. This would enable “a means of implementing fine–grained application–specific functions at strategic points within the network” [12]. Active networking quickly created a design controversy as a possible challenge to the end–to–end principle (Reed, 2000).

When markism dominates

It is possible to identify four different variations of markism as a dominant Internet ideology.

The first of these is a computer–driven markism. The idea is to utilise the research traditions within artificial intelligence (on describing information for the processing of machines rather than humans) and digital libraries (on storing and cataloguing information) (Ossenbruggen, et al., 2002).

The second is a judicially driven markism. This system of ideas can benefit by computers that work intimately with metadata. However, the real purpose is to counteract the anonymity of boxism and the creativity of speedism in order to link real–life persons to specific virtual events in a legally satisfactory manner. In other words, the policing of the Internet requires sophisticated instruments for identification.

The third is a surveillance driven markism. This is a value system intent on monitoring online behavior in order to control off–line behaviour.

The fourth is a search engine driven markism. Major search engines such as Google and data mining corporations such as DoubleClick constantly strive to aggregate information on Internet usage. This is a value system which actually carries traits of all of the three above.

I will, below, deal with these in turn.

Computer–driven markism can be represented by Berners–Lee, et al. (2001) and their notion of the semantic Web. In this future scenario, everyone has their own custom–made semantic Web agent that navigates the Internet in our place. I see these as elaborations of the personalised modules within boxism.

In order for the semantic Web to function, Internet content will be marked up for computer processing, rather than for human reading. Not only do these agents surf in our stead, they also interact with each other, thereby saving us time. In an example given by Berners–Lee, et al. (2001) communication between a brother and sister can be kept to a minimum in planning the medical treatment of their mother, since their respective agents can negotiate the essentials together with the agent of the doctor.

This is an image of an imminent future in which the Internet is so exceptionally well marked up and the computers are so good at identifying language patterns that the computer can take care of a large part of our tedious information practices. It will be able to interpret our knowledge needs, translate them to a strategy for searching, retrieve relevant documents and then process this information into a tidy summary. This is essentially what this version of markism taken to its extreme would do. It is an Internet where there is so much metadata that our manual information practices are insignificant compared to that of a computer.

Returning once again to Zittrain (2008) and the idea of the generative Internet, I actually detect a substantial challenge to the innovation of the Internet in the development of the semantic Web [13]. The semantic Web is intended to, just as appliances, be layered upon the current top layer. The bottom layer is XML and already in place. All of the other layers of the semantic Web are placed on top of XML (Ossenbruggen, et al., 2002). In the end, these layers are designed for the semantic Web agents rather than for humans.

It is important to point out that the semantic Web agents are not intended to go into the envelope and read the actual content. Instead, they navigate extended presentations of metadata. The quality of their performance is therefore dependent on the establishment and continued development (including frequent updates) of XML based metadata.

While there are obviously many advantages to having personal semantic Web agents, I would argue that this is actually not a system that empowers us as knowledge seekers. Attaining knowledge is not only about reading a document that is placed before us. Rather, it is a whole process in which the knowledge seeker articulates an interest in connection with the activity of scanning different types of documents. If we, the humans, lazily give this away to the computers, it is we who become the stupid machines.

The second variation, the judicially driven markism, suggests an extensive system of identification and markup in order to control and police the Internet. Lessig (1999) discusses this variation as “architectures of identification”, including the technologies of password systems, cookies and digital certificates. Lessig describes these techniques as “layer architectures of identity onto the existing identity–ignorant architectures of TCP/IP” [14].

The judicially driven markism can also be seen as an ideology promoted by the U.S. Patriot Act. Furthermore, it is connected to the regulations against copyright theft such as the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the trade agreement, TRIP,S and the European attempt at file sharing regulation, IPRED. As the creative and evasive movements of copyright piracy can build on the endless flexibility of the distributed network, effective counteractions must invade on individual privacy to be effective. Without an elaborate system of identification, the legal system will only catch the least knowledgeable file sharers. This would be unsettling from a democratic viewpoint.

Naturally, semantic Web agents can hunt for these kinds of lawbreakers considerably more effective.

The third variation can be called the surveillance driven markism. It is distinctly different from the second variation, which works to restrict the distributed network. The surveillance driven markism exploits the distributed network for routine mass surveillance. Zittrain [15] discusses this as “privacy 2.0” following the development of cheap sensors and Web cameras. While the judicially driven markism consists of a value system intent on monitoring online behaviour, the surveillance driven markism is concerned with offline social processes. Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy signaled already in 1999: “You have no privacy. Get over it” [16]. Video clips available on the Internet can be utilised as a resource for tracking the individual through the evolution of facial recognition software such as Google–owned Neven Vision. Both publicly accessible web cameras, e.g., those placed at the U.S.–Mexican border and cellphone video clips distributed on YouTube, are instruments that are actively utilising the Internet as a peep show. The result is an army of citizens documenting each other for various purposes, all together creating a vast resource for privacy infringement.

The value systems of the powerful search engines and third–party data mining companies constitute a specific kind of markism which I have termed search engine driven markism.

The most powerful actor within this type of markism is Google. Even though it strives to “do no evil”, it leads a strong trend of targeting and analyzing individual surfing behaviors through traffic analysis (Conti, 2009). In defining the Google vision, cofounder Larry Page states: “The ultimate search engine would understand everything in the world. It would understand everything you asked it and give you back the extract right thing instantly” [17]. Naturally, in order for this to work, the search engine must either generalize the specific needs of the user in a mainstream fashion (which is no good) or have surveilled the individual user extensively. It requires the kind of “hyper scrutinized reality” that Zittrain [18] warns against. It is also a vision strangely similar to that of the semantic Web.

The most damaging aspect of a dominating search engine driven markism is the obvious threat to sensitive information such as innovations being developed, pending patents, organization memberships, anonymous sources to journalists, personal illness, sexual preferences, abortions, and corporate strategies and policies. While most companies aggregating search and surfing patterns have restrictive privacy policies, that is clearly a much too inefficient protection. As Internet security expert Greg Conti puts it: “Information is a slippery thing”.”

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