Let’s make the Internet consensual!

As a pluralist group, we do not have a single opinion. Different people, who are active in our context, publish their views here from time to time.

The principle of consent is a collection of norms about sex. They were created to ensure that everyone involved in the sex feels good, so nobody has to fear to be coerced into something they do not want. It relies on steady communication, of asking, how the other one feels about something, and agreeing, verbally or non-verbally, to every act.

Most internet services ask you exactly once.We use cookies, tell advertisement companies your secret fetishes, and read all of your chats. Do you want to use our service or not?“ And if you are brave, you can close the browser window, uninstall the app and stay safe.
But most times, this is not an option for the user. If Facebook is the only chat service my significant other is using, then I can’t just click no if I want to maintain my long-distance relationship. Coercion is not consent. If you leave me, none of your friends will talk to you again.“ is an existential threat, not a mutual agreement. However, this is exactly what happens to most people who are excluded from Facebook, because they do not want to use their real names.
Instead, users should be able to choose what they send and what they see during their internet existence. There are some examples, where this is already working; twitter offers several clients apart from their webpage, and an open API to build clients on your own. Adblockers are a very efficient tool to ensure that users can view what they want, and anti-tracker software has become the basic self-defense mechanism of anyone who is aware of the problem of mass surveillance by internet companies.
But this has to go further. Currently, the struggle for user autonomy is in a similar situation as the struggle for gender autonomy or self-chosen clothing in work spaces. The only alternative to absolute submission under the will of the people higher in the hierarchy is exclusion from society. Comparing to that, most people do not have the choice to say „I don’t want to relate to people who overstep my boundaries“ if they want to have any partner. And nobody should have to face this choice.
We want a better choice than autonomy or exclusion. There has to be space for a grey area in between. We want to be asked more often what the services we use all day look like. We want to have a democratic share in our daily lives – even online.
This can only be reached if there is a change in mentality. If the power relations of the internet get re-negotiated, users will have to accept a new reality and therefore form new demands. 
@mspro suggested in his great book „Digital Tailspin – Ten Rules for the Internet After Snowden“(german/english, free download) a new kind of user ethics: One point was that we should have accounts on as many services as possible, so other people could stay in contact in the way they want. This is important to wage war on service monopolists like Alphabet (Google) and Facebook and makes it attractive to use alternative services like ixquick or diaspora*.
Users have to understand that they are not dependent on services. They can make this independence reality only if they understand and act on it. As long as users are not able to install an app and learn about its inner workings, they cannot emancipate themselves from coercive hosters.
When users learn to rethink their powers and use their market weight, they force hosters to accept new rules: Only then hosters will grant users autonomy, because if they don’t, nobody will use their apps and services. This is how changes in mentality help shifting the unfair balance of power towards the wealth of the users.
But if we want an internet without coercion, with individual freedom, with fair margins of decision, the power relations between hosters and users have to disappear. A fair internet is only possible if receivers become senders again; if the internet is unTVed. To make this possible, start independent services, become autonomous, create yourself!

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