A lot has happened so far in 2011, and most of what is in the news was lit from a spark from the Internet. So to say an entirely new political landscape has been born seems to be the understatement of the century.
Look at what is going on in northern Africa and here and there in the Middle east, and you would think a long overdue dictator house cleaning is underway and it was started from internal unrest. But if you connect the dots, or if you prefer follow the dominos upstream you will find the trail most likely leads to the US army private accused of leaking documents to Wikileaks.
Good bad or indifferent about the Internet, the Internet was the tool used to get the word out. The one difference was the credibility of the author of the Wikileaks leaked document. There was absolutely no challenge to the credibility of the US diplomat who composed the document. Long felt suspicions about corruption were suddenly and seemingly verified when coming from this credible person.
So seeing that the accusation came from a person seen on par with the corrupt politician, that was all it took. Add Facebook and Twitter as communication tools to the mix and suddenly you see the power being returned to the people with the simple tool of communication. So there is no wonder why countries have taken efforts to eliminate these tools of real time communication. Shutting down the Internet and disrupting cell phone service are now elements of warfare, or more specifically warfare against the people.
What a dictator fears is people power and the Internet is the tool that returns that power to them. So when you look at Iran, China, and other countries that are or have actively blocked the Internet, you begin to see the political power the Internet has. Even when you consider the ultra security of Blackberry devices, is there any wonder why some governments threatened to pull the plug on their service unless Blackberry gave them access to the communications. Yes it can easily be cited as needed to thwart terrorism, but it can just as easily be cited to keep the power from the people now as well, the proof of that is in the news.
So this brings us to the question of what is ahead. How far will some governments go to keep the power from returning to the people. How far, and at what cost is the question. It is hard to say but taking a snapshot of today, it depends on how ruthless the dictator is would be a fair method of measure. So that does make us think about the way governments think. The US wants to silence the leaks, while other governments look to silence the people.