Renaissance man Ben Hammersley delivered a speech to the British security intelligentsia. And I must commend him for his bravery in saying these things to their faces. In another context, this would be called speaking truth to power.
For many, a functioning Internet with freedom of speech, and a good connection to the social networks of our choice is a sign not just of modernity, but of civilisation itself.
This is not because people are “addicted to the video screen,” or have some other patroniing psychological diagnosis. But because the Internet is where we live. It’s where we do business, where we meet, where we fall in love. It is the central platform for business, culture, and personal relationships. There’s not much else left.
To misunderstand the centrality of these services to today’s society is to make a fundamental error. The Internet isn’t a luxury addition to life; for most people, knowingly or not, it is life. […]
We are used to having our opinions matter, and so now, at the one end, politics is more shrill (more rabble-like) and at the other end, we have rioting.
Indeed, a small part of the trigger for the London riots can be understood as the gap between the respect given to peoples’s opinions by the Internet and the complete disrespect given by the government and the ruling elites. […]
The speeches given after the London riots, about closing social networks down in times of national emergency were… stupid in this respect. They disregarded the centrality of those services in people’s lives, which made people look out of touch with modernity. […] They reinforced the impression you get when you go through an airport – that this is all self-justification.