Thanks to Snowden, we now know the Internet has become a giant government spying apparatus dependent on the complicity of companies we use everyday. A Reuters poll from April showed that a majority of Americans believe that technology companies including Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon are "encroaching too much upon their lives." It's a rather remarkable statistic given these companies were universally loved not that long ago, widely imagined to be allies of the people against the old oligarchs.
The American government does seem to have wisely ended its practice of routinely seeking to listen in on the cell phone calls of friendly leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. At their meeting in D.C., the two governments agreed to set up a working group. This bilateral group should consider a new approach to resolving this problem.
It's both the best of times and the worst of times for the free speech rights the network is supposed to support. To break the cycle of repression we must look more closely at the tools protesters and reporters use and ask whether they further the cause of freedom, or just make speakers more vulnerable.