Life, liberty, data

Power, before it comes from armsor wealth, emanates from ideas.” Foreign Affairs November/December, 2005

Ideas have consequences. Sometimes they seduces gradually, often, and to great effect, by dividing our brains from our hearts. And sometimes, seeking a more direct route, they wreck the heart simply to get our attention.

Ethan Zuckerman adds some detail to the scrutiny U.S. Internet firms are getting over their business practices in China. He believes that the Internet will likely splinter into multiple Internets as some governments seek ways to cordon off unwelcome ideas, an outcome that is drawing closer to reality following the unsatisfying conclusion of the UN World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis last fall.

The Washington Post also ran a story on one Chinese journalist's victory for information freedom, "The Click that Broke a Government's Grip" (free registration required), which demonstrates that ideas can wriggle through the tiniest openings.

A little closer to home, C|NET provides this summary of a remarkable exchange between Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) and representatives of Yahoo!, Google and Microsoft during a recent House of Representatives hearing. There is certainly no shortage of bombast in Congress, but as C|NET points out, the connection between ideas and personal freedom is no abstraction to the Congressman, who used highly personal language when talking to the company representatives. Rep. Lantos, born in Budapest, is the only current member of Congress who is also a survivor of the Holocaust.