Questions we must ask about the internet

06 May, 2013


by Chandran Nair

Financial Times

Sir, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen’s book The New Digital Age, is essentially a celebration of the internet (“Engine of humanity”, Life & Arts, April 27) that ignores the threats it poses. Here are a couple of questions we should be asking.

Will the internet make the world ungovernable and dangerous, destroy innocence and speed resource depletion? How? First, allow anyone to make their own bombs, incite hatred and mobilise instant protests without regard to the consequences. Second, allow porn to reach every corner of the world. Third, create unmanageable industrial espionage that will also end the idea of businesses operating ethically. Fourth, ramp up the speed of consumption and reduce its costs.

Is the internet not potentially one of the most dangerous creations by humans? Societies will need to control it, but policy makers dare not ask the right questions due to the tyranny of the liberal ideology of “freedom of information” and the risk of being labelled repressive.

The authors apparently believe information like water will inevitably find a way around any barrier. They may need reminding that this is why societies prone to being undermined or submerged by water have always sought to protect themselves with carefully engineered solutions.


The writer is founder and chief executive of the Global Institute for Tomorrow and author of ‘Consumptionomics’