Emerging in the last week in the two dramatically different contexts of Canada and Egypt – is that citizens globally are addressing communication technologies as a fundamental right, cel phones and the Internet and particular. More broadly, communication technology is seen here as the key facilitator for free speech – for what good is free speech if no one can hear you?
Which has always been the criticism levied at a corporately-owned media with no accountability and no oversight – and the call for a democratically-centered media in the form of public radio/tv, university journalism, and grassroots presses – none of which by definition could have the reach of the corporate players if only because of the lack of access to resources.
But I think that both the CRTC decision to allow for excessive billing by Internet providers, and the decision by Mubarak to cut off Internet and cel phone communications point out the inherent weakness in relying on anything other than our physical selves to create zones of freedom. Which doesn’t mean to go luddite in our organizing of course…. but to be prepared and recognize our Achilles heel for what it is. Which means keep building our lines of real world connection and communication. Our face-to-face meetings, our neighbour potlucks, our marches in the streets that pick stragglers up along the way.
It turns out that nowhere in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms are Canadians promised affordable Internet, nor accessible cel phone networks – and I’m pretty sure no citizen in the world does either. Perhaps now is the time we start agitating for the People’s Communication Charter?