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Preface by the Collaboratory Steering Group MIND 6

Preface by the Collaboratory Steering Group MIND 6

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The Collaboratory Steering Group
Dr. Philipp S. Müller, Dr. des. Ulrike Höppner, Martin G. Löhe,
Dr. Marianne Wulff, John H. Weitzmann

In 1775, Benjamin Franklin wrote “they who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”[1]

We live in a time where our vision of a free and globe-spanning cosmopolitan communications infrastructure - the internet - is being shattered by the exposure of significant instances of secret government surveillance in western liberal democracies, the erosion of privacy as we knew it, the introduction of new tools and practices of censorship on the internet and threats of cyberwarfare, the significance of which we are only beginning to un-derstand. The internet is growing up and facing the similar challenges as other technological advances before. It has entered adolescence, and it is yet unclear how it will turn out when it becomes an adult technology. Now is the crucial time to shape our thinking about how this global infrastructure permeating our societies on all levels should look like when today’s children will be the drivers of technological change to come.
The information and communication infrastructure that forms the back-bone of commerce, government, healthcare, civil organizations and entertainment needs to be a reasonably secure and reliable infrastructure and substantial challenges remain: Power outages cause real damage, data loss has potentially far-reaching consequences, criminal intrusion into crucial infrastructure is not easily prevented and systems preserving our digital heritage are in their infancy. Pessimists paint a grim picture of the global threats we face but Benjamin Franklin would warn that if we sacrifice our liberties trying to secure our infrastructure, we would have failed. We need a global debate about the tension between security and freedom and we need to ensure that it is an informed debate about the ways we approach internet regulation, governance and security involving all rele-vant stakeholders. It took decades to establish forums for the prevention of war and genocide and, imperfect as they may be, they provide important and valuable frameworks. It is now time to build and strengthen our frameworks for shaping the global network infrastructure, making the internet viable for coming decades and preventing a descend into an Orwellian surveillance society as well as the collapse and fragmentation of the global internet.


  1. Ascribed to Franklin as as part of his notes for a proposition at the Pennsylvania Assembly, published in Memoirs of the life and writings of Ben-jamin Franklin (1818).

MIND-Multistakeholder Internet Dialog
MIND stands for Multistakeholder Internet Dialogue. The discussion paper series is a platform for modern polemics in the field of internet governance. Each issue is structured around a central argument in form of a proposition of a well-known author, which is then commented by several actors from academia and the technical communities, the private sector, as well as civil society and government in form of replications. all MIND-publications

Gordon Süß
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