Saturday, July 20, 2002

The Techno-Political-Digital-Age at barely a decade old is still very much in its early infancy.

The Techno-Political-Digital-Age at barely a decade old is still very much in its early infancy. Like first time parents, global and national political policy makers are cautiously raising this baby and formulating their policies without the benefit similar experience. In the United States the depth of both the cultural impact and the massive financial scope of the ongoing Microsoft anti-trust case highlights how powerfully and deeply ingrained Techno-Political affairs have become in government, corporate, academic and personal operations, and how difficult the "correct" public policy can be to create. Since September 11, 2001 the Techno-Political issue of personal privacy has become the newest test of constitutional civil liberties in the United States and Europe.[i] How much privacy should one be expected give up for the right to enter cyber-space in now a major issue of E-Governance policy. For the Internet to be a democratizing tool, access to it and the information on it must be unfettered. Already in American workplaces and college libraries use of the Internet is closely monitored and regulated. The issue of Internet use in American public libraries made major news this past May 2002 when a federal court struck down the Children's Internet Protection Act.[ii] The three branches of the American government have just started sorting out exactly what rights to privacy citizens retain in cyberspace ----(and public space too in light of new surveillance technologies)---- during use in work, school and home. The E-Governance topic of cyber-privacy is sure to be a focus of public and legal debate for generations to come, much in the same way other privacy issues have been throughout American History. Just as the American Courts have had to continually re-address search & seizure and privacy laws as new technologies arise, so too will the issue of Cyber-Privacy will become a major discipline of law, both in America and around the globe.

In China, Cuba, Vietnam and other dictatorships, E-Governance control of the Internet is at the forefront, with totalitarian governments expending much time and energy in seeking to contain the potential subversive effects of the digital communication and Internet age.[iii] [iv] To ban the Internet completely is impractical for dictatorships if they want their oppressed citizenship to be able to compete in the globalized world economy. So for dictatorships the only authoritarian option is to attempt control and stifle political cyber-dialogues the best they can without curtailing economic activity. Or in other words to use their powers of E-Governance in order to constrain the citizen use of Cyber-Activism.

It is anybody’s guess as to whether the Globalized Digital Age of Techno-Politics will be a blessing or a curse, and for whom. Will democracies grow stronger and dictatorships weaker? Or will democracies --- especially in the light of terrorist threats---- grow more oppressive, using the technological tools of the political digital age to monitor citizen activity with greater precision than ever before possible.[v] Or maybe the Techno-Political Digital Age will just be a big sum zero impact with the global political and economic status quo unfazed. (In the next chapter of this paper we will explore these questions within the sphere of American politics.)

An excellent overview of the academic side of Techno-Politics is posted on the homepage of UCLA Professor Douglas Kellner in an essay entitled Intellectuals, the New Public Spheres, and Techno-Politics. [vi]

[i] ASSOCIATED PRESS. One effect of 9/11: Less privacy : New surveillance laws passed worldwide, report says. September 3, 2002. Accessed date of publication via @

[ii] ALA News Release. American Library Association applauds federal court ruling on the Children's Internet Protection Act. The American Library Association (ALA) . : May 31, 2002 The deep-links are active as of August 25, 2002.

The American Library Association (ALA) applauds the decision of the federal

court in Philadelphia today, which ruled unanimously that the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) is unconstitutional. The opinion was written by Chief Judge Edward R. Becker of the Third Circuit and joined by U.S. District Judges John P. Fullam and Harvey Bartle III.”

[iii] Ruwitch, John. China Appears to Block Web Search Engine Google. Reuters

Sep 2, 2002. Accessed via news on date of publication @

[iv] Reuters: Vietnam Cracks Down on 'Harmful' Internet Use. August 7, 2002.

Accessed on date of publication via news @

“Communist-ruled Vietnam has ordered local authorities to inspect Internet usage in its two biggest cities in a crackdown on "harmful information" from cyberspace, officials said on Tuesday. A spokesman at the Directorate General of Posts and Telecommunications (DGPT) told Reuters the scrutiny, which started last week, would be nationwide after initially targeting the capital city Hanoi and commercial hub Ho Chi Minh City.”

[v] McCullagh, Declan. Will Canada's ISPs Become Spies? CNET August 27, 2002, Accessed on date of publication @

[vi] Kellner, Douglas. “Intellectuals, the New Public Spheres, and Techno-Politics”, Available at