« Cover Entry Portfolio III | Main | WTM Chapter 2 »

27, 2005

Chapter 11 Oral Presentation

Governments Get Nervous; Big Business Gets Nosy

As time passed by after the creation of the internet governments started to censor the information their citizens saw and big businesses started to track their consumers.

The Great Firewall: "2003, the government of China flipped a switch, figuratively speaking, and indiscriminately turned off access to thousands of weblogs. The Great Firewall, already in use to block specific news and information sites the government didn't want its people to see..."(210).

China is not the only country that censors at times what its citizens see. Other countries who do this are Saudi Arabia, France, and Singapore. A good point at the end of this section on "The Great Firewall" is that even the United States is pushing for "surveillance capabilities that would surely have a chilling effect on politically off-center speech" (210).

This is as scary thought! Is the privacy and freedom we thought we got from the internet disappearing?

Cookies: The "supreme irony", as Gillmor puts it, is that right now the ones doing the surveillance in the US are the big businesses. How do they do this? Many people who don't have a clue that they are being tracked ask this question, and it is such a simple answer; 'Cookies'.

In the mid 1990's Netscape created 'cookies'. Cookies allow the owner of a website to see where and when you have been on their website. 'Cookies' are actually little text files that imbed themselves in your internet or hard drive. I like the quote from Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig that they should be named "Network Spy". Here is a good website that explains, more in depth, what cookies are. Also here is a Microsoft (big business) website explaining what cookies are.

Now there are two sides to the cookie in this case, no pun intended ;) Cookies memorize how you have personalized a page. For example if you customize your 'My Yahoo' page. Cookies make sure that the page is just like you designed it when you come back to it time and again. Yes I am sure you see the downfall of cookies, a little infringement of privacy. The information cookies store and gather about how you surf the web can be subpoenaed.

You can actually view and set the filter of 'cookies' by opening a browser and going to 'Tools' and the 'Internet Options'. Depending on what version browser you have you can go to 'Privacy' and set the filter. As well as you can go to 'General' and then view all the cookies on your computer. Here is a sample of what is on my computer:
EBay, Google, Ticketmaster, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Hotmail, Facebook, and the list goes on and on. Try going to 'General' then 'settings' in temporary internet files, and then 'view files' on your own computer and see how long the list is.

In conclusion this section in Chapter 11 expresses that the internet is starting to be controlled like many other things in our lives; by both the government and big business (so what’s new?). When the internet was first created people thought that this was finally their outlet of free expression. Not only can you look up whatever you want on the internet but you can express your opinions on the internet. People thought that this would be a totally free thing. Apparently now this is not the case. Some countries censor what their citizens see and we are losing our freedom of privacy and free speech by being tracked; scary thoughts in this age of technology.

Posted by AshleyWelker at 27, 2005 05:57


You did a great job today and you made some really good points. I believe what one does on their own personal computer is their own business, but I also feel that a person who abuses the privilage the internet provides should be wary. If you commit a crime online, your personal business could be discovered and be your downfall.

Posted by: Katie Lambert at 28, 2005 02:20

Great presentation Ashley. It was very informative and believe it or not, interesting. I really was intrigued on how you said that there was two sides to a "cookie": How one side promotes memory for easy remodifications to a website, and how another side shows the infringement of privacy of your PC. It makes me nervous to know that my PC is being tracked because of something so sweet as a "cookie." ha. Once again though, I think you did a really solid job on your presentation.

Posted by: Jason Pugh at 1, 2005 04:40

Thanks for the compliments guys. I thought it was interesting myself Jay :). No but really I never knew what cookies where, other than something I Xed out of, before I read this chapter. I am glad now I know what they are. I hope you get a chance to check what cookies are on your computer. It really is amazing how many there are. I also agree with you Katie, I do think it should be our personal business, but big business says otherwise, and maybe some day the government, yikes!

Posted by: Ashley Welker at 2, 2005 09:20

Post a comment

Remember Me?