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on January 25, 2012
MacKinnon's book is well-researched exploration of the forces driving Internet developments and policy across the globe today. She serves up an outstanding history of recent global protest movements and social revolutions and explores the role that Internet technologies and digital networks played in those efforts. In particular, her coverage of China and the Net is outstanding. She also surveys some of the recent policy fights here and abroad over issues such as online privacy, Net neutrality regulation, free speech matters, and the copyright wars. It is certainly worth reading and will go down as one of the most important Internet policy books of 2012.

Her book is an attempt to take the Net freedom movement to the next level; to formalize it and to put in place a set of governance principles that will help us hold the "sovereigns of cyberspace" more accountable. Many of her proposals are quite sensible. But my primary problem with MacKinnon's book lies in her use of the term "digital sovereigns" or "sovereigns of cyberspace" and the loose definition of "sovereignty" that pervades the narrative. She too often blurs and equates private power and political power, and she sometimes leads us to believe that the problem of the dealing with the mythical nation-states of "Facebookistan" and "Googledom" is somehow on par with the problem of dealing with actual sovereign power -- government power -- over digital networks, online speech, and the world's Netizenry.

But MacKinnon has many other ideas about Net governance in the book that are less controversial and entirely sensible. She wants to "expand the technical commons" by building and distributing more tools to help activists and make organizations more transparent and accountable. These would include circumvention and anonymization tools, software and programs that allow both greater data security and portability, and devices and network systems to expand the range of communication and participation, especially in more repressed countries. She would also like to see neitzens "devise more systematic and effective strategies for organizing, lobbying, and collective bargaining with the companies whose service we depend upon -- to minimize the chances that terms of service, design choices, technical decisions, or market entry strategies could put people at risk or result in infringement of their rights." This also makes sense as part of a broader push for improved corporate social responsibility.

Regarding law, she takes a mixed view. She says: "There is a need for regulation and legislation based on solid data and research (as opposed to whatever gets handed to legislative staffers by lobbyists) as well as consultation with a genuinely broad cross-section of people and groups affected by the problem the legislation seeks to solve, along with those likely to be affected by the proposed solutions." Of course, that's a fairly ambiguous standard that could open the door to excessive political meddling with the Net if we're not careful. Overall, though, she acknowledges how regulation so often lags far behind innovation. "A broader and more intractable problem with regulating technology companies is that legislation appears much too late in corporate innovation and business cycles," she rightly notes.

MacKinnon's book will be of great interest to Internet policy scholars and students, but it is also accessible to a broader audience interested in learning more about the debates and policies that will shape the future of the Internet and digital networks for many years to come.

My entire review of "Consent of the Networked" can be found on the Technology Liberation Front blog.
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on April 4, 2012
Consent of the Networked is a must for all people who realize that the future of a free and democratic internet is not at all guaranteed and that we have to contribute in order to make sure that cyberspace is not ruled by some weird Big Brothers. Rebecca MacKinnon gives a very good account of the challenges in this new, fabulous, profitable and highly contested playing field where huge corporate empires compete with nation states and where freedom of information is threatened at every corner. After reading this book, we understand that from simple users we have to become citizens of the Internet who fight for their rights.
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on February 12, 2013
This is a provocative book that is well argued. All of us using the internet in the modern world need to be aware of the political issues arround this new interactive technology that crosses many of the boundaries of the past. The extensive use of networks and the changing conceptions of open development, property, consent, and privacy will require new conversations and better public education for the informed consent of people. This book should be compuslory reading for all courses training people to work in telco networks and related industries.
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on April 9, 2012
This book did lag a few times...the topic can get complex or technical. I still loved it.

The author takes a detailed, but not overly so, look at a variety of the online challenges to rights and freedoms globally. As we mostly know, the technology moves much faster than the laws thus we are all operating in a largely unregulated online world at least some of the time. The book helped me better understand the related issues and I thought deeper about the topic (a good thing, in my opinion).

I've been recommending this book widely.
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on July 22, 2015
This is an outstanding piece of work on one of the critical issues of current international politics. Thoroughly researched and well presented. Obviously, this is a fast-changing issue, but the basics are here for those who need and want a solid grounding. Very Well Done.
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on March 26, 2012
Excellent book that was well written and easy to read, while covering a large amount of material in an easily digestable format. A good primer for an introduction to the current issue of the internet world.
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on September 4, 2013
Overall, a good read. MacKinnon's work was well researched and well discussed in the issues plaging privacy and human rights in the use of the internet.
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on September 7, 2014
A must read for everyone. Poor cover...this is not some socialist manifesto.
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on November 9, 2015
Required textbook reading
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on October 14, 2015
The book was great but it could have been done in less words, I enjoyed the reading over all, opened up my eyes.
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