Transcript & comments from "Twitter against Tyrants" Congressional hearing

Some choice adhoc quotes that tumbled out of my brain during the Congressional hearing on new media, titled “Twitter against Tyrants”, that I spoke on last Thursday in Washington, D.C..

“I’ve learned an important lesson in working with the Tibetan
independence movement and others:  It’s that we can’t presume what people are
willing – are or are not willing to do for their own freedom and liberty and
democracy.  We can’t say, oh, if they do that, they might get arrested or go to
jail or get killed and we can’t do that.  These are people, as we saw in Iran,
who are willing to take to the streets and die for their freedom, and you know,
the – it’s an important fact to remember to not presume that you want to
protect them.”

“I get asked this question a lot as well because I’m building,
like, an encrypted phone and people are like oh man, the Mafia is going to love
that, or something.  So it is – and my students ask me this as well – and I
don’t, from an engineer perspective, I don’t want to be the guy that said yeah,
just, I made the AK-47 and you know, it’s a great gun.  (Laughter.)  So you
have to be careful.  You need to inject morality into these things, but you do
– it’s a slippery slope.”

“I’m happy for tools like Twitter, that they can be used just as well to cover
the daily lives of Ashton and Demi or break the news of Michael Jackson’s
death.  But the fact that they can be used to broadcast updates from the
streets of Iran or spread the news of political prisoners in Tibet being
executed is a very weighty obligation and responsibility that they’ve taken on.”

Many thanks to my fellow panelists (Daniel Calingaert, Evgeny Morozov, Chris Spence and Shiyu Zhou) for the enjoyable discussion.

Shout-outs to Ushahidi, Alive in Baghdad, Lech Walesa and more in the full un-official transcript.

8 thoughts on “Transcript & comments from "Twitter against Tyrants" Congressional hearing

  1. “I think in the university system in the U.S., we need to have more opportunities to educate students that they can have a career in using technology to support a variety of causes, and not just focus on Wall Street or going to work at Google.”

    Awesome stuff, Nathan. I'm really proud of you for being on the panel and for speaking out so well on important issues that are often misunderstood in Congress.

  2. “I think in the university system in the U.S., we need to have more opportunities to educate students that they can have a career in using technology to support a variety of causes, and not just focus on Wall Street or going to work at Google.”

    Awesome stuff, Nathan. I'm really proud of you for being on the panel and for speaking out so well on important issues that are often misunderstood in Congress.

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