Internet access among diverse audiences

Something quite powerful that was mentioned in this week’s videos is the idea that social media is literally flattening the world.  As smart phones and Internet access are more and more prevalent, outreach to wider audiences is more and more possible.

Recent events have highlighted the absolute importance of Internet access when it comes to reaching repressed audiences.  The State Department’s recent announcement of a policy on Internet freedom, covered by The New York Times shows just how important that is.

The State Department announcement re-affirmed their support of the free flow of information (though NYT points out that Wikileaks is a glaring exception to this affirmation), and highlights the types of services that it will support in an aim to prevent oppressive governments from limiting the freedoms of its citizens via the Internet.  These include:

  • Circumvention services, allowing Internet users to work around firewalls
  • Training so that relevant parties can secure email from surveillance or wipe cell phones if they are in danger

It will be interesting to see how the U.S. government’s public support of Internet access for all plays out.  This research could also help the government innovate its practices in crisis situations or other instances in which Internet access is especially strained.

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