The Internet Is an Oligarchy

The different reactions from Internet firms to the WikiLeaks publications reveal a dilemma. Many citizens regard the Internet as a public space, but in fact it is a private sphere.

The companies that control almost all the forums on the Web can, if in doubt, exercise their rights of ownership and ban who they like. The extent to which citizens are free on the Internet depends on whether these companies want to get into conflict with the state or other firms, for example copyright holders. They have to work out, on their behalf, how far the right to free speech goes, and when it infringes upon other rights, for example personal or author rights. There is a saying "pick your battles." Well, Internet giants Amazon and PayPal have clearly decided not to join the fight for WikiLeaks.

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