What would “ethical browsing” or “ethical social networking” entail? Never using sites that exploit facial-recognition technology? Refusing to do business with Internet companies that cooperate with the National Security Agency? These are the choices we’ll have to make if we don’t want the Internet to become an ethics-free zone. After all, unreflective use of technology—just like unreflective shopping—does not a good citizen make.
But let’s not allow Internet companies off the hook, either. Of course, Google and Facebook are different from rapacious corporations exploiting poor farmers or underage children. Neither company is building surveillance tools that would be used by dictators. What they do, however, is help create the apposite technical and ideological infrastructure for such tools to emerge in a seemingly natural manner. This doesn’t provide strong grounds for regulation—but it opens the door for citizen activism, boycotts, and, if all else fails, civil disobedience.
Evgeny Morozov. Wait, “civil disobedience”? What would we be disobeying? And why?