Talk: The Internet was a weapon from day one

In September I did a talk at #FIfFKon18 in Berlin about the history of the Internet as a weapon.

The “weaponization of the internet” — it’s a hot topic these days. News of this supposed weaponization dominates and haunts the news cycle. Many believe that this is a new development. They're freaked out that the Internet, once a force of democracy and egalitarianism, has been hijacked malign forces.

But the internet hasn’t only now become weaponized. This is a myth.

The Internet has always been a weapon, going back to its emergence out of the Pentagon in the 1960s as the ARPANET. One story I like to bring up is from 1969, when kids from Student for a Democratic Society at Harvard and MIT protested the Internet (then known as the ARPANET) as a dangerous political weapon even before the Internet went live.

Here's a short bit about that history:

—Yasha Levine

PS: One thing I realized talking in front of a mostly German audience is that my attempts at humor didn't translate very well — or maybe I'm just not that funny. At one point, I was asked how the Internet could be used as a tool for peace. I replied that I had no idea...but then said that if I did know how to use the Internet for peace, I would probably be at a TED talk and not at this small lefty tech conference in Germany. To which I got nothing but silent stares.

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