Imagining the Internet Project

 

 Responses to this 2020 scenario were assembled from Internet stakeholders in the 2012 Pew Internet & American Life/Elon University Future of the Internet Survey. Some respondents chose to identify themselves; many did not. We share some—not all—of the responses here. Workplaces of respondents who shared their identity are attributed only for the purpose of indicating a level of expertise; statements reflect personal views. If you would like to participate in the next survey, mail andersj [at] elon dotedu; include information on your expertise.  



 
Anonymous responses
to a tension pair on
corporate responsibility
and the Internet
in 2020 

This page includes anonymous survey participants' contributions to the discussion of the future of the Internet and corporate social responsibility by 2020. This is one of eight questions raised by the 2012 Elon University-Pew Internet survey of technology experts, stakeholders, and social analysts. Results on this question were first released by Imagining the Internet Director Janna Quitney Anderson and Pew Internet Director Lee Rainie July 6, 2012. 

In a recent survey about the likely future of the Internet, technology experts and stakeholders were fairly evenly split when it came to imagining how they expect technology firms will perform when confronted with situations in which optimal product sales and profits can be made only when they follow restrictive rules set by autocratic governments? 

>To read the official study report, please click here.<

>To read the responses of participants who took
credit for their answers to this question, click here.
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Following is a large sample of the responses from survey participants who chose to remain anonymous when sharing their thoughts in the survey. Some are longer versions of responses that were edited to fit in the official report. About half of the respondents chose to remain anonymous and half took credit for their remarks (for-credit responses are published on a separate page).

Survey participants were asked, “When it comes to the behavior and practices of global tech firms and political, social, and economic movements, how will firms respond? Explain your choice and share your view of  implications for the future. What are the positives, negatives, and shades of grey in the likely future you anticipate?” They answered:

“There will be a gap between intentions and reality. On the intention level, there's already a strong movement toward the protection scenario. On the reality level, international policies being what they are, it will be culturally and economically impractical to implement such protections outside of societies that share similar definitions of social and human rights. This is sheer arrogance and a continuation of colonialist mentality on the part of (particularly) American corporations—the idea that American notions of ‘rights’ have any application outside their own economy.”

“The real answer is both—there are different sides in info-war. Both sides can make money, so both will actively function.”

“There will be a mix of both activities, depending on the individual company. And companies that act responsibly will face competitive pressures from those whose business plans involve services to authoritarian regimes.”

“I'm not entirely confident in the existence of democratic countries as we know them at that point in time.”

“Democratic norms will definitely be in place, and governments and firms will find a way around them when expedient. The decisions will be behind the scenes. For instance, what BART did in San Francisco in August 2011 and the several points of view about the stoppage.”

“I hope that responsible, principled policies will emerge, though I say this even as the British government considers restricting the availability of social networks during times of unrest. I think that it’s imperative that national governments of democracies make plain their principles so as to provide working guidelines for companies in their jurisdictions too squeamish to stand by principles of their own. I don’t expect it to happen anytime soon.”

“The question appears to assume that Western telecommunications firms will be major players in Internet access in foreign countries—I think that’s a flawed premise and cite the following counter-examples that are more indicative of the trend, in my opinion: 1) Google cut back activity in China. The Chinese Internet seems to be doing just fine. 2) When Egypt shut down the Internet in Egypt earlier this year, the shutdown was accomplished entirely via Egyptian telecommunications companies; not a single Western company was involved. I think Western telecommunications companies will be responsible, but as a consequence of that responsibility they will be forced to limit their activities in authoritarian countries.”

“We will see a growth in corporate responsibility but make no mistake, it is not because corporations would discover a sense of responsibility but because the public will have found positive ways to reinforce such behavior.”

“The primary aim of corporate capitalism is to maximize profit while externalizing cost. Unless there is a coordinated international effort to deny technologies to authoritarians through embargoes or sanctions, any attempt to regulate the sale of such technologies will simply be to remove the bits of the company involved in such sale from the jurisdiction of regulation. Since most of these governments themselves would like to avail themselves of the same technology to monitor and block certain Internet traffic, I would be astonished if there was any movement in the direction of embargoes or sanctions. In the case of China, it is already too late: Their local industries are competent enough to provide such technology without worrying about the opinion of Western suppliers or customers.”

“In 2020, companies will continue to prefer stability in democratic environments because stability leads to better profit forecasts. Encouraging activism or dissident behavior is dangerous because it creates consumer disruption.”

“I don't think that they will monitor or block, but not because of any norms or codes. It’s just that the business and legal consequences of offering selective, politically-directed service suck much worse than running with openness.”

“I would expect firms to adhere to local regulations at the lowest cost they can negotiate. Nothing more.”

“Unfortunately, we are already headed towards the path of forcing technology firms to expose users’ information in our own democratic country even for non-lethal issues like intellectual property infringement, so they most certainly will not allow protection for more serious needs.”

“Authoritarian regimes love to play benevolent, as do corporations. It’s in all of their best interest to pay lip-service to free speech, while doing lots of business in interception and content-filtering. This trend has only been accelerating over the past fifteen years.”

“I don't think the distinction is between ‘democratic’ and ‘authoritarian.’ Think of Turkey, or even some of the proposals now before the US Congress. Second, corporations do business in a country under the agreement that they obey the laws, whether the country is authoritarian or not. Corporations are profit-maximizing organizations that might try to avoid being charged with activities many will say infringe individual freedoms, but in the end will make a business decision. Such decisions are complex, witness the current furor over ICANN's allowance of .xxx to go forward.”

“Neither scenario is in any sense realistic. Look at the attempts to rule the online world, by the US government in particular, through bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, the greedy moves by big corporations for copyright protection. These will be of much greater significance.”

“Governments may make corporate responsibility or irresponsibility a moot point. The governments will take down sites unilaterally if they feel it is a problem—including democratic governments. The revolution will not be televised—or on Twitter—unless the government says it can happen.”

“Autocratic governments will only be one driver for increased tech company political ‘packet shaping.’ Democracies will also drive this—cf., the British government taking on social media or the general panic around Wikileaks.”

“Technology firms will be goaded into abiding by sets of norms. This will occur on a case-by-case basis, with no full-scale adoption of a norm of morality.”

“The bottom line here is that since most technology firms headquartered in democratic countries are for-profit enterprises accountable solely to their shareholders (i.e., because their only reason for being is to make as much money is possible for their shareholders), the outcome will be what generates the most money for their shareholders. Some will find niche markets with an R2P message, just like ‘green’ is a valuable market approach for many today, but in the end, the bulk of the real money is against the humans.”

“It is not the role of technology firms to decide when to protect citizens. They develop technology; they do not play politics. There should not be rules that will affect their ability to innovate and develop and not get involved in politics. Whenever private firms get more involved in politics, they add to corruption rather than limit it.”

“Selfish behavior does not exclusively stem from the need to please authoritarian governments. It also includes so-called democratic Western, developed governments. This will not change, rather, it will intensify as the Internet expands opportunities for control and monitoring.”

“Oh, they’ll monitor and disrupt all right, but there will be so many workarounds from the open-source communities and release of information from groups like Anonymous that there will be huge loss of capital and trust. The Arab Spring will have its Fall and Winter, followed by a Summer of re-configured global alliances while the mega-corporations try to dominate without long-term success, resulting in more Springs around the globe.”

“Forget autocratic governments—as we saw in the riots in London, the threat of citizen coordination in democracies is enough to prevent any embedded defense of civil liberties in the tools themselves.”

“I believe the founders of these companies prefer that information be open. I also feel that should a system/technology change to remove functionality that users have leveraged in the past for social or political purposes, another company in the tech landscape will pop up to fill/exploit that void and there will be a mass migration. There will always be a new Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr should the old one turn into a dud.”

“Open-source communications will expand and there will be less and less ability to monitor or block. There will be more energy spent on observing and coding for analysis. The Web is too free a space to control, but activity can be tracked.”

“They will follow the money. Business ethics is an oxymoron.”

“I thought about this question for a long time. Thank you for that. However, my answer may not reflect the complicated issues and solutions for it. Be that as it may, if there is something to hide, it's bad, and the world should know about it. Firms should not have the power to selectively turn on or off world information based on the desire of a selective few, even if they are the leaders of the country. People must learn to sort out the truth, rights, and honesty in this digital world. We've yet to accomplish that!”

“I can see and smell the regulations coming, and I am sure that big technology firms will prefer to comply rather than flee.”

“There is a Western bias/shortsightedness in this question. The global action will have shifted to Asia, Africa, and Latin America by 2020. The West may become the third world of the future.”

“Domestic and international security has always been given a higher priority than individual freedoms. There is no reason to think the Internet will change this.”

“Norms will be made and broken at a rapid rate. Governments as we understand them may be an anachronism.” 

“The 2010s or 2020s decade will explode in papers related to corporate responsibility. Many lectures, congresses, and acts will be developed. Declarations and compromises will be made. In the end, a new Patriot Act will come back to sweep all in the name of national security; secret services will continue monitoring communications; some organizations will still be bugging some public figures; and corporate leaders will continue doing what some members of their councils require, if it will produce money.”

“Corporate interests have never been and will not be ‘tools of democracy’ they instead prop up and maintain autocracies because those are useful for business. Just look at the mining industry around the world. Why do we expect technology firms to act any different if they live in the same market environment as everyone else?”

“Neither scenario will happen, it will be like it is today. This has nothing to do with democratic countries. It's about capitalism. This question is exactly the one the capitalist system wants you to ask, since it never wants to be noticed.”

“If considering capitalism as another type of authoritarian systems, then I fully agree with option two. The laws of the market are simply stronger than any democratic or human rights-related issues.”

“Companies will respond to the incentives in the different places where they operate. And they will know how to hide their differing activities, so that activists in democratic countries will never know that a company is deriving significant income from cooperating with authoritarian regimes. Companies will do what they have to and what they can get away with, and will be creative in managing the various situations in which they find themselves.”

“Corporations could bypass the inefficiencies of bureaucracy, grow customer loyalty, and potentially create more resilient consumer markets. Laissez-faire capitalism might just work. And this could be a huge catalyst for innovation.”

“Companies are not governments, and their duty is to satisfy their stakeholders and they normally have the primary mission to increase their capital. So as long as the R2P cannot be monetized, the future is dark(er).”

“The nature of capitalism is market expansion. Capitalists have a singular motive: profit. R2P is an intrinsically anti-capitalist ideology.”

“The vision you paint of tech firms abiding by a set of pro-democratic norms is one that American companies, as leaders in the field, must not only embrace but proselytize. I have seen evidence that various existing firms have not embraced this goal, however, as evidenced by the sparse adherence to the Global Network Initiative. This is an area in which the US government must lead, prod, and nudge.”

“Different companies will adopt different attitudes, but on average they will watch their bottom line. For every company like Google that tries to protect users, there will be many more like Cisco that is ready to sell technology for the Great Firewall of China. By and large, I expect companies to respect the laws of the countries where they do business, as the alternative pretty much means leaving these countries. We also see many companies actually going for a safe lowest common denominator, e.g., Apple censoring iPhone apps that are politically offensive, or Facebook ensuring that there is no nudity in published pictures.”

“Even as the open Web struggles to hold dominance, we will see software and hardware designed to limit and track users online and supposed leaders who have no compunction about using such products. This is a challenge that will be with us long after 2020.”

“They will not take steps to minimize their usefulness. They will increase their power at the expense of the governments of the world. Don’t kid yourself. The only possible event that will prevent or delay this is the collapse of the world’s economy. Corporations, those that run them and those that own them, continue to increase their greediness.”

“I don’t see this being much different than TV. The bulk of large providers will filter and produce based on the preferences of their audiences. But there will always be smaller, emerging companies who will create programming without a bias. Citizen journalism will rise—leaving much more confusion on what the real sentiments of a government are, and it will be part of our journalistic responsibility to ferret out both sides of a story, not just the people rallying in the squares of an Arabian Spring for example, but the population who’s not as convinced immediate change is not the best option.”

“Corporations will take over more and more of the services and programs of government, under the guise of corporate social responsibility (CSR). At the onset this will be viewed positively, as the way that corporations give back to society. Over time we’ll come to see this as ‘unrepresentative’ government, but dependence will be too great for backing away from this model of CSR.”

“The first rule of a capitalist business is to make money for its shareholders. That, in essence, has been its one and only objective. We are experiencing a change in the way that stakeholders are viewing the companies where they have an interest. We are seeing the rise of more social responsibility and have actually seen some research that shows that firms that are socially and environmentally responsible have stronger bottom lines. There has also been a rise of social entrepreneurs—people who want to balance the social good that they do with the amount of money that they earn. At the same time, big business has come under scrutiny in terms of its social impact and there has been a rise in consumer consciousness about the environment and social justice issues. This is a slow change in corporate social responsibility that may have gained some traction by 2020.”

“Profit seems to be winning against everything else with large companies, why not this area, too?  These companies will chase shareholder value, and the idea of corporate responsibility will be nothing more than buzz words to be used in the annual report. Empty and meaningless.”

“The benefits of connecting to a Web where information is shared liberally and without discrimination will continue to isolate governments that isolate their population in an effort to control their population. People in democratic governments will continue to feel a moral imperative to protect those who are at the effect of such oppression.”

“I don’t think technology firms will have evolved enough by 2020 to understand the ethics of transparency, nor are they willing to devote resources to research the questions that need to be examined in order to craft reasonable policy. Government will have to set the limits and boundaries first, and negotiate with corporate entities or enforce policy via litigation. Same problems as with enforcing the civil rights laws.”

“The real question is will corporations be committed to politically moralistic values in 2020. I don't see why this would change.”

“It is hard to see big-market-seeking multinationals acting courageously rather than self-interestedly. Really, what current examples are there?”

“Blocking, editing, and censoring does and will always happen.”

“Third scenario: We will place no special burden or expectation on companies like Cisco (which is currently aiding the Chinese government in finding and persecuting dissidents) because we’ve convinced ourselves that placing any such burden would amount to ‘government intrusion on private business’ and most people can’t be bothered to care anyway.”

“I am not encouraged by what I’ve seen from most tech companies. Google may be the best and even they have succumbed to many market forces. So long as profit-making entities decide how to proceed, this will be an issue.”

“Telecommunication firms would much sooner self-regulate than have regulations imposed from external authorities. Their efforts may not go far enough, but they will try to appease concerned government leaders and the public. These firms would sooner self-regulate in a way to preserve profit than risk losing profitability having to respond to external regulations.”

“Cisco helped create the Great Firewall of China, while Google withdrew from China when it felt that the government was asking them to compromise its search service too much. Telecoms folded when the Egyptian government asked them to shut down mobile services during Arab Spring. But Twitter didn't fold. This means that large technology/communications companies are going to have a greater role than ever in shaping the public sphere the way governments do.”

“Firms want to make money and will not want to antagonise increasingly less democratic governments. The governments will become less democratic because their citizens, even though they have the Internet available, will be even less informed and less able to critically think. Making them easy to lead by the nose.”

“The Web always comes through and demands more than can be demanded through other mediums. Consider, for example, Google’s transparency page. It would be unheard of in any other industry.”

“I remain hopeful that the idea of freedom—and protecting freedom —will somehow reside in corporations with headquarters in democratic countries, despite pressure to focus on profits from stockholders in democratic countries. So far the public noise level is high and against blocking protesters’ Internet activity as a result of public exposures—with eyewitness photos and movies—by media companies and citizens alike of injustices and violence. Just as authoritarian regimes and the tyrants associated with them can be more readily exposed to many people through modern telecommunications technologies, so also can offending telecommunications firms be exposed to more people. I remain hopeful that technology firms will abide by a set of norms that support freedom because it’s the right thing to do, and people support them in their efforts on behalf of freedom.”

“If there were a set of universal guidelines for technology companies alongside the human rights standards brought forth by the United Nations, that would be great. Technology should be used to help people, not shut them down.”

“For smart systems to operate and other advancements, privacy by design must exist. R2P sounds like the likely outcome. Without this we can have chaos. We need trust in our technology service providers to move forward with technology.”

“Worldwide norms and guidelines are a great idea and hopefully will put all of the countries on a more even playing field.”

“While they will at times look to profits, firms will also respond in reaction to the ongoing threat of terrorism, providing services to aid in the ‘war against terror.’”

“In 2020, technology firms headquartered in democratic countries will keep track of domestic dissidents at the behest of politicians they put in office. They'll also track citizens for profit on behalf of marketers, employers, and copyright holders.”

“I selected the first choice only because the latter is so awful. Yet, it was just this past week of the fall of 2011 that New York City police first shut down the computers Occupy Wall Street protesters were using. For a democracy to continue, access needs to be open and criticism of government must be retained.”

“Technology companies will continue to deftly navigate these issues in ad hoc ways that minimize the various political risks (risks of offending domestic and international governments, risks of offending various customer segments) and financial costs (autocratic governments will not pay to have content filtered—they’ll demand it—and the costs of filtering would be borne by companies; litigation—for filtering too much or too little; for disclosing too much or too little—will continue to be expensive).”

“The differences with the way things are done in the United States and China will merge to a hybrid.”

“Freedom as we know it has reached a zenith; there can only be less in the years to come.”

“As tech firms look to maximize revenue, they will shy away from their role in political organizing. Perhaps there will be a third-party solution brokered by non-profits, but it’s hard to see YouTube staying in the business of Bahrain citizen murder videos. Given the immense challenges faced by political dissidents, I hope I am wrong.”

“As I grow older I find less intelligence and more greed. I would like to think we are better human beings, but in the long run we have proven time and time again we are not.”

“Economics trumps politics for most corporate entities on any day. The ability to operate (and make a profit) in autocratic societies drives companies to be there despite the controls and repressions of the respective governmental regimes. Governments have become so sophisticated with the technologies of surveillance and control (especially in what we perceive as democratic societies), that they can intervene without penalizing telecommunication companies in other markets even today.”

“While I would like to be egalitarian and believe the first choice is the scenario, I believe the United States will be one of the first countries not to sign some such pact or will find some way to side-step it under the guise of national security. If anything, our national responses to the events of 9/11 have eroded our civil liberties—not defended them.”

“‘Don't be evil’ will become ‘don't be stupid’ and there’s a difference. People will know more about the values and actions of the corporations that serve them and will be making consumer choices at times based on that information. Some companies will welcome this—they’ll cater to one consumer group’s value set (for example, Christian right or environmentalists) while others seeking a mass audience will behave as neutrally as possible in all spheres to avoid upsetting a portion of the population. Pan-national companies will have a local face and might perform differently based on the market.”

“Guns are stronger than bytes.”

“You can't lump all tech companies into the same category. This definitely depends on the organization. Different companies have varying levels of commitment to defending human rights. We give a lot of credit to Twitter for its role in Iran, but Twitter refused to join the Global Network Initiative. Likewise, Facebook also refused to join. Other companies, however, including Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo joined Global Network Initiative.”

“Firms seeking to circumvent R2P will engage in hostile takeovers of media outlets in an attempt to curtail public awareness of their practices. As a result, media conglomerates—already suffering from competing citizen and community journalism—will have to disband to survive.”

“I would like to believe the norms set forth in the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ agreement will prevent selectively monitoring or blocking of the Internet or communication networks. Unfortunately, as we have seen recently in the news, this has not been the case. As the government continues to claim more control over the people, it will take quite a change for R2P to become a reality. Still, it gets my vote.”

“The world is complex. The telecommunications groups with a footprint in all worlds can try to solve the problems, but the problems get more and more complex.”

“Both really. These firms are already headquartered in the ether and pay taxes all around. China is a very complex set of values, which require a separate survey. Perhaps the R2P should be worded in terms of users and providers. Have providers replaced governments in the way Wikileaks has replaced a free press, which is independent of corporate, religious, political, influence?”

“I would hope for R2P, but the reality just isn’t there and may not be by 2020. We just can’t steamroll another culture, another country. There is a delicate balance in maintaining relations with a foreign country and imposing our will, even if human rights are at stake.”

“People will generally be too satisfied with life to bother using communication channels to effectively challenge their governments or corporations (the ‘opiated masses’ argument). The uprisings we’re seeing now are mostly a consequence of material conditions, not of the availability of Twitter. The only people who would probably care about such measures would complain if you regulated use and would complain about something else if you didn’t. Corporations don’t really gain all that much by minimizing usefulness to paying consumers, and they don’t risk much by letting them use it for whatever they want.”

“Globalization dynamics will make either rules or norms for corporate responsibility even harder to sustain than they are now.”

“The path of least resistance and most profit will be likely adopted, as history has shown. Technology is only a tool for human ingenuity. I wish it would become a tool for human enhancement and general environmental stewardship, but so far, my worst fears seem to be realised. I worry about lack of freedom of speech, and a type of 1984-style society. Maybe we can do better by 2084, but not by 2020. We may be getting closer to such a scenario.”

“By 2020, technology firms will function much like they do today, but possibly with more social-oriented ethics in place. Governments will have more accountability to activist organizations and citizenship groups because of the ‘no one can hide forever’ nature of the Internet. This will increase the need for ethical behavior among technology providers. Technology firms may have more of an obligation to monitor their own developments to be corporate citizens of society—‘first, do no harm.’”

“Corporations, not individuals, are becoming more powerful. Around the world people are unhappy with the economy and their governments. In an effort to avoid losing power, governments are already limiting freedoms, which only leads to more distrust and social/political issues. More than likely were are headed for (or have already started) another period of revolution and independence.”

“Clearly tech firms are moving toward subtle control of how media is dictated and disseminated. As the consolidation of this media continues, the ability to control will become more effective and dominant.”

“The US president has the power to suspend the Internet. The US government has the power to monitor Internet traffic, sometimes requiring a warrant, sometimes not. This is the ‘most free’ country? What?”

“The tipping point to date for the provision of personal data, for judicial use in particular, has been when information has become admissible in court, e.g., mobile phone calls, location of mobile phone as evidence. There have also been situations in which mobile phone networks have been ‘turned off’ because of a cited need to maintain public safety, such as in UK terror attacks in the 1980s and 1990s, when the cellular channels were all needed by emergency services. The recent Arab Spring scenarios of government intervention and requests for closing down service are thus not entirely new issues for providers of telecommunications, although Wi-Fi is a perhaps a different matter from cellphone coverage. Nevertheless, they are new issues for people—the users—who have become accustomed in the last few years to instant access to always-on communication. There is a new tipping point emerging and telecoms operators may be forced to make some uncomfortable decisions about what is within their own control and what is part of their regulatory as well as corporate responsibility.”

“A lot will happen in this area by 2020. The delayed backlash from the Arab Spring and the lessons autocrats learn from it will rear its head fully by 2014, with crackdowns on access and only a niche group of Western firms opting for R2P. By 2020, however, enough groups in enough oppressed countries will have found enough workarounds to make the facade of blocking a lame joke. Most Western firms will quickly get ahead of this curve and declare they have been for R2P all along.”

“A key issue that faces the optimistic corporate citizen of the 21st century is the fact that many of our growing markets exist under the dominance of repressive authoritarian regimes. Given the choice between participating in these markets and allowing members of those markets to express themselves freely, technology firms will have no choice but to bow to the pressure of shareholders seeking ever more growth and will abandon their nobles goals.”

“The interference of governments in the Internet is increasing daily. Therefore, it would be illogical to assume that they would demand their main financial supporters to abide by a set of rules that they themselves threw out the door long ago. The manner in which the US government is invading people’s privacy on the Internet is scary in its totality! Furthermore, these same governments use the tech companies to assist them to spy on and suppress their citizens. They will, therefore, only demand compliance from small and ‘insignificant’ tech companies—especially from tech companies from developing countries. Double standards rule where alleged democratic governments are involved.”

“From the current world stand of governments, technology firms will be forced into drastically narrowed abilities to spread information and support political reform. The world's governments will not allow the continued freedom that has fostered the recent overthrow of governments.”

“There will be more firms that take the stand in the second paragraph, and there will be a significant number of companies that maintain the stance of the first paragraph. This is much less about the countries than the companies. Which will be more powerful in 2020? I think the companies are more on the ascendancy at the moment, and it’s likely to play out in their favor over the next ten years.”

“The firms are generally very libertarian in orientation and will pursue the idealism of the ability of the individual to overturn autocracy. This will make them take risks that are more in line with R2P.”

“Technological companies in democratic companies will make efforts to disassociate their brand with political changes and persecutions, but will not deny their services from those countries. To deny/block would require a cohort of values-based leadership to support democratic principles, despite the options for economic gain. By 2020, I'm not certain we will see that cohesive, value-based leadership across the broad technological landscape.”

“I would hope that firms would take a principled stand and not help authoritarian regimes restrict rights or crack down on dissidents.”

“The backlash that populations have shown this year, not only in the Middle East and North Africa, but in England and San Francisco, indicates that corporations will have to be held accountable for their actions and prevented from instituting restrictions.”

“The pressures by governments to protect against vague threats and fears will continue to be accepted by the majority of the American population. The US government will continue to erode civil liberties in the name of safety. Net neutrality will be dead and independent sources will be throttled down to low bandwidth/viewership. The media will not stand up because they are owned by corporate interests whose desire is for stability not dissent.”

“Large corporations will increasingly serve the interests of the wealthy and powerful and will not be deterred by democratic or human rights concerns, unless everything we know about the behavior of large corporations ceases to be true. On the other hand, the tools and technologies they create and control will be used by broad-based social movements as well. As in the past, the ability of those with power to repress dissent will vary.”

“Authoritarian regimes and ideologies already seem far better at affecting behavior in democratic countries than vice versa. Given China’s global economic leverage at the moment, it is hard to see any actor resisting its authoritarian influence.”

“Firms with Western headquarters will adopt clear policies on R2P, but may spin off subsidiaries and find other ways to work around these limitations.” 

“The development of the Internet as a complex adaptive system will continue to evolve, and attempts to control information will be thwarted by complexity.”

“All governments will want to have a kill switch just in case.”

“Governments will insist that some level of imposed constraints on the free use of social communications media be implemented by technology firms. In large part, this will be done quietly and without fanfare.”

“It may still be a bit of a wild west out there, but through various other technologies people will be able to hide their movements. I don’t know that the cause of this will be protest. I actually think it will be people wanting to hide how they use the Internet, including people using pornography.”

“All telco's already cooperate fully with local governments, enabling wire tapping, monitoring, etc. The main protection for individuals is that the data volume is too large to monitor effectively.”

“Corporations are organizations that have emerged from the population. They are groups of private individuals who have manifested to perform together. The government is a part of a tiered system, with corporations acting as middle figure (along with local representatives) between the people and their government. Their origins lie with the people, and so usurping the people’s powers for the purpose of gaining more power is a growth of ego. It is corrupt, and it is betrayal. Corporations’ position should always remain with the people.”

“Neither scenario. Corporations are already using tactics against people like the Wall Street protestors by reporting viruses on their websites, so that people won't view their webpages, using votebots on YouTube videos they don't like, to push them off the main page (where popular videos are placed), etc. They don't have to resort to either scenario presented in the questions.”

“Already, global corporations are outstripping governments as change agents and have hijacked democratic processes. So the phrasing is not quite right: Corporations will continue to entrain governments, and corporate technologies will have as their main purpose attempting to control consumers—which is what citizens will have become.”

“The rise of Volunteer Technology Communities suggests that even when governments attempt to repress organizing efforts within a nation, external volunteers will jump in and organize on the behalf of the oppressed or disadvantaged. The crisis mapping community is an excellent example, attracting an increasing number of volunteers who have aided people at local and global levels, with or without the involvement of national leaders.”

“It is going to be a continuous war between access and control.”

“Technology firms exist to make money not democracy.”

“As long as those in power are human they will want more and more control, and therefore will use whatever means possible. For-profit companies/agencies will, on the whole, value expedience and power over democratic values. It all boils down to human nature, which is never going to fundamentally change.”

“Corporations don’t care about politics; they run things. And to them politics only means a favorable or negative market image to sell whatever. I speak as an insider, not an outsider sitting in a park. There is adequate awareness of what business does, but there is little power to control it other than with a public spectacle. I see the disparity between corporations and individuals growing, although it’s weird because there is also a symbiotic relationship at work. For example, you will hear, ‘I hate Walmart, but I have to shop there.’ Technology firms will do what’s best for themselves to make money, not what’s best for the world from an ethical standpoint.”

“Big business has more power than the citizenry and governments, and there are no incentives for them to become more transparent.”

“Neither of these is likely. I'm going with scenario two, which is far too pessimistic, only because one is far too optimistic.”

“The first paragraph appears idealistic to me. In reality (e.g., after the riots in London in 2011), governments will be looking for ways to monitor the planning of criminal activities. Personally I'm very much in favor of the idealistic alternative.”

“Profit making will continue to be the top priority of technology firms in 2020.”

“Firms will consider what’s in their best interests both in the near-term and long-term.”

“Of course corporate responsibility’s going to be very costly to take up.”

“I doubt that firms in democratic societies that follow that second path would last very long.”

“This is a tough question. I think of the example of the ethics of Google in China. My selection of scenario one is probably wishful thinking but this is how it should be in an ideal world.”

“Corporations are pigs when it comes to this subject. They will continue to exploit workers and will only stop doing so if they are legally constrained, which is not likely to happen, since the government benefits from backdoors built into US-based companies’ systems.”

“My sense is that it will be scenario two, based on limited observations and a generalized mistrust of corporations in relation to the public interest.”

“One can hope that the current trend against authoritarian governments will continue.”

“Neither question is right. 2020 will be the same as today, as it should be.”

“Google China, anyone?”

“Large firms are likely to participate in efforts to keep the Internet more under control, but association with autocratic governments will not be favored and the number of such governments will shrink.”

“We need to work to materialize the scenario one vision. It will call for sustained vigilance and political activity, but it's the only way forward.”

“Western firms obtain the bulk of their revenues from Western markets and thus will be responsive to those markets much more so than to decrees of authoritarian regimes.”

“Technology firms have ethical and moral responsibilities, as well as financial responsibilities. Social networks continue to proliferate and prove their effectiveness in ousting formally autocratic regimes. We see this phenomenon taking place today in the Middle East. We are witnessing the early stages of the use of the Internet for political change.”

“I say no to being monitored and having my details mined.”

“At least in the US context, it's hard to see No. 1 coming to pass when corporations have been given a green light by the US Supreme Court to actively buy favor in the political process. Many businesses will claim it’s ‘not their place to interfere in the domestic affairs of foreign countries,’ when in reality they’ll be well motivated (and equipped) to do so if/when it effects their bottom line. ‘Plausible deniability’ may need to be updated for 21st century international affairs and business.”

“These kinds of world-wide decisions will not be taken soon. Technology firms will continue focusing on their revenues and their good relationships with the current governments.”

“I applaud the development of international regulations for safe and secure use of computing technologies. I am hopeful that we can develop regulations that promote safety and security, without becoming too limiting and intrusive for users.”

“I would hope that we do not step backwards in regard to this!”

“Unless we see a dramatic change in capitalism, then technology firms will still be interested in generating profits as a primary, secondary, and tertiary goal. This means that they will want to maintain strong relationships with the governments that allow (or hinder) their opportunity to make money. As a result, they will largely cooperate with all but the most oppressive of governments.”

“This one could go either way. Technology firms will go with whichever approach is best for the quarterly bottom line, so it’s just a question of whether democracy or authoritarianism is in the ascendant in growing markets over the next decade. Democracy seems to be doing pretty well lately, so I think there’s a marginally higher likelihood that technology firms will find themselves compelled to act responsibly.”

“I disagree with both assertions. Some firms will take a stand on the matter, others will stay out of it altogether, in order to maintain plausible deniability and assert to governments on both sides that they are remaining neutral and simply facilitating communications between people, however they choose to use it.”

“While authoritarian regimes will try to block technology, it will be seen to be widely ineffective as people more rapidly create workarounds. Since the blocking doesn't work, it won’t be such a big issue. However, regimes will continue to do wholesale blocking of communication as a whole when desperate, with the dire consequences that has for any ordinary functioning of a society or economy.”

“I hope for the former, while choosing the latter. Trends seem in that direction.”

“Things will stay as they are now.”

“Companies will obey the laws of the country where they are headquartered, regardless of how horrible the law is and how optimistic the company is. Countries will continue to have more guns than the companies that would consider disobeying them.”

“Big Brother? I think so.”

“I would choose both if I could.”

“I would like to think that global tech firms would feel certain moral obligations. Some isolated actions by such firms show that this is possible. However, the corporate structure by its very nature is entirely profits driven. I do not see any evidence of that changing, and I do not see any evidence of government regulations that would effectively impose moral obligations on technology firms.”

“Commercial entities are ultimately governed by a set of rules defined by governments.”

“In an ideal world it would be scenario one—but this sort of change is usually caused by single high-profile events, with legislation as a backlash. These are hard to predict.”

“Technology firms will continue to struggle to behave in accordance to human rights and to conduct business in some countries.”

“Most corporations will follow the money. That's what they do.”

“Organizations will continue to choose for themselves whether they kowtow to governments’ requests to block the activities of those they find undesirable or decide to thumb their noses at the governments and choose to uphold the ideals of free speech. The market will allow for both paths to continue, unless, again, a major radicalization of governments across the world happens in this decade, but again, it’s hard to say if that will happen sooner or later.”

“More likely the open-source/free software movements, the technologists creating the tools, will find ways to decentralize networks so that they are not vulnerable to this kind of centralized control. See the Freedom Box project.” 

“The first one is my hope; the second one is possible.”

“There is little incentive for firms to protect their customers when governments give them their ability to exist, licenses and such.”

“Firms will act in a way that benefits their shareholders, and if that conflicts with the greater good or the moral choice, they will find a way to justify their actions.”

“I hope that the first vision comes to be a reality, but this will require significant political activism and will. The risk of the second vision becoming reality is very real, e.g., the British prime minister’s recent suggestion of shutting down social media in specific circumstances.”

“There will be a way around it, but I would expect big technology firms firmly allied with big government and apt to control and report on dissent.”

“I'd like to believe the first, but since too many corporations are now also political puppet-masters, the second seems more likely. Trends already in place are not getting the negative response needed to prevent further encroachments.”

“Global corporations will not respond to moral issues if it does not suit their bottom line to do so. The only exception would be if a ‘responsibility pact’ were issued—however, I cannot see how such a thing would be enforced, especially with blurry political lines (who is right and who is wrong?) and so many politicians who still argue we should be able to wiretap our own citizens who are suspected of wrongdoing.”

“This outcome is very up in the air! Very recently, we have learned that both autocratic, strongly authoritarian governments, as well as democratic ones, are vulnerable to social network, Twitter-enabled ‘rebellions’ or ‘hooligan-ism.’ I don't think we know how Western/democratic-sited technology firms are going to react. They seem to be outside the influence of their own governments and ill at ease with brutal regimes’ abuse of their products. Big technology firms may just get out of the business of this level of control. And technology mercenaries will spring up to sell this to anyone.”

“Sadly, the profit motive outweighs any social good for corporations these days.”

“I picked the one I want to happen. Again, my optimism is showing here. However, I would not be surprised if the opposite happens.”

“While there have been instances of accommodation to autocratic regimes, the trend has been for such regimes to falter and fall. Too much accommodation in the future will have adverse domestic social and political results, and companies will seek to avoid being seen as hampering free speech and association. The capabilities of such regimes to intervene will not be foreclosed by the sensitivity of such telecommunications companies. Domestic institutions under the control of these regimes will seek to conduct such monitoring and filtering through their own control of media.”

“In order to keep the Internet open and effective, companies will have to adopt norms in order to ensure that their products and services do not harm users or facilitate repressive governments. If they do not, the Internet will likely deteriorate as an open platform.”

“I made a choice here, but I don’t really agree with it. Vodafone Egypt is subject to the law of Egypt, and the fact that it is headquartered elsewhere isn’t especially relevant when the Egyptian government decides to decree an Internet shutdown. I don’t believe that adopting a set of norms in one region of the globe can really improve the situation for people on the ground in another region, unless the authorities in that region can also be enjoined to adopt similar norms there.”

“The move to regulation will be minimal.”

“Technology companies will continue to provide products that can be used for multiple things (after all, the Internet is just a tool), and will continue to interact with governments on those governments’ terms. They will make conciliatory/outraged/apologetic statements as appropriate, but nothing much will change beyond that.”

“Though I am selecting the former paragraph, but to me things will not be that simple to explore or handle, and nation leaders or civil societies will face major obstacles in resolving these issues.”

“Another idealistic desire that will probably be driven by the bottom line and not ethics or humane values.”

“Corporations are driven by profit and not social conscience. That’s why we regulate them. We won’t see the rosy scenario being driven by corporate leadership who are very uncomfortable with the short term quarterly consequences of revolution!”

“There’s a third choice—that companies and governments will continue on their current path towards monitoring, etc. That is more likely.”

“Corporations will continue to distance themselves from applications and activities that directly confront the governments of large countries (China, India) whose consumers they depend on for business. They may, however, be a bit slow or not-proactive closing loopholes that allow small independent companies or NGOs to circumvent both the government and the corporations’ technology. This outcome depends on the continuation of a certain amount of technological ambiguity that exists today.”

“Corporate structures will evolve, as they have always evolved, to minimize outside control of their choices and to maximize the short-term financial return to high-level executives and to elevate share prices. Corporations do not really care a damn about democracy—in fact, in the case of for-profit corporations there are arguments to be made that democracy or not is an issue that is outside the scope of corporate legal responsibility to maximize economic value for the corporate shareholders.”

“Never trust a corporation to do anything in the public’s interest.”

“It’s going to fluctuate for a while yet.”

“The very concept of Western or Eastern telecommunications firms is already blurred and will disappear. There will be, as always, successful and not-so-successful firms. All firms will complain to a certain extent against rules and regulations, whether by democratic or autocratic firms.”

“This is a very difficult question. Corporate responsibility is currently negligent or quite poor, and I am concerned that corporations may cause more harm to the individual person by taking advantage of poor people. I really hope corporations develop a conscience.”

“Free speech reigns, hopefully.”

“Both trends will continue in a kind of yin and yang struggle. There will always be black hats and Blackwaters, and there will always be white hat hackers and Wikileaks.”

“Generally speaking, most technologies are developed in countries that are democratic—Japan, the United States, Europe, and India. China is the exception. Because most of these technologies are developed in a democratic variety of governance, we will continue to see R2P principles incorporated into technology and media, just as we have seen with Facebook in the Arab Spring.” 

“Social networking companies have, in general, adapted to the desires of (powerful) restrictive governments. Companies are not generally driven by social ideals, and therefore are inclined to concede to the demands of a government that is able to withhold a large base of consumers.”

“I hope it is scenario one.”

“Those who choose not to will not be heavily criticized by a nearly non-existent professional press (only by bloggers) or by Wall Street.”

“This question is wrong. Even the most evil of corporations today recognizes that playing by the rules, while at the same time ‘gaming them’ is much better than flagrant disregard. I suspect all sorts of technical compliance with the letter of the law, even as I suspect as the same time much disregard of the spirit of the law.”

“I assume these companies will be driven only by profit. Will it be more profitable to make countries more democratic?”

“This area is in flux with neither scenario likely to be reality in 2020. The debate is bound to continue and to the extent there is blocking or monitoring, new technology will likely still provide the means for the Internet activity of protestors.”

“Networks will be redefined to ‘route around’ or distribute info such that ultimate control will be illusory.”

“Global firms want to be global players and will figure out ways to work with/around problematic countries. To be present is critical.”

“This one is a difficult choice. It is probably a mix of both outcomes.”

“Most corporate actors will work as hard as they can to minimize any restrictions on their behavior and their freedom to move about the globe. Seeking the least-restrictive environment will characterize the next ten years.”

“It’s hard to choose. The Internet Governance Forum will be central in this evolution.” 

“I’ll side with the optimists and hope that technology companies in democratic countries put social responsibility before short-term profitability. In the long run, the interests of managers and shareholders should be aligned on the side of openness and service to the community.”

“One of the best benefits of an open Internet is encouragement of a sense of social conscience. I believe this will suggest an intolerance of technology utilization to stifle/limit free expression.”

“The answer will be somewhere in the middle.”

“The world keeps shrinking. No activity can be completely hidden.”

“Democratic nations will practice democratic behaviors and autocratic nations will be more restrictive. Neither one of the statements will be true.”

“We already have examples of both situations, and we still will in 2020.”

“I can see either happening so I picked that one that I hope happens. It would be a shame to see technology hindered in a situation where it would be so desperately needed.”

“Although there is pressure from the world’s authoritarian regimes, the people will demand and get less monitoring from the governments.”

“Tech firms are the least likely ones to get involved in the political arena.”

“Private corporations will always act in a way to ensure their survival and profitability. If that means acting on requests of an autocratic government, then they will acquiesce. I don't see any improvement for human rights in this area within the next decade.”

“This doesn’t have much to do with the technology firms but more to do with the state of human rights around the world.”

“I have to choose this option only because the alternative is even more unlikely.”

“This seems to offer no middle ground for the tech company that has solid good citizenship practices in place versus a company that just doesn't choose to play in that area in the R2P question. Are they any different than any other company? Don't all companies have some social responsibility?”

“The reality may well be closer to number two than number one. Corporate culture is not easy to change and to do so at all requires leaders to sustain intervention policies and actions for a meaningful length of time to bring about wanted change. I am afraid we have neither the leaders nor the time for that to occur by 2020.”

“We can’t get our corporations to behave domestically. How in the world can we get them to be good global citizens? Corporate globalization just means new labor to exploit and new markets to sell to.”

“It isn’t a question of autocratic governments vs. democratic governments—all governments seek to restrain protesters. The labels applied—terrorists vs. freedom fighter—is dependent who is doing the labeling. Protesters in my country are terrorists—protesters in my enemy’s country are freedom fighters. Major technology firms are international firms—allegiance is to shareholders not governments. They will do what is necessary to protect their own investments and resources.”

“This is a difficult one to choose. I’d like to see us all get along and agree on a ‘Responsibility to Protect.’ Cultures and conflicts will not allow this to happen. Women still can’t drive and vote in different countries, so I can’t believe communications will all be equal.”

“I thought scenario two had already happened. While governments are slow, they’ll eventually figure out how to co-opt the big technology companies into giving up lots of data on users.”

“Democracy is spreading, just look at the Middle East. Choice two will not be tolerated.”

“For companies, the bottom line is the bottom line. They will do what they have to do to keep markets open and growing. There are organizations that are focused on providing technologies to dissidents.”

“The independent nature of technology contributes to its credibility. The second choice has far too many consequences not detailed in the passage.”

“Don't be evil. Ha! LOL.”

“We've already seen phenomenal use of social networks for global good. The R2P is critical in helping maintain or establish human rights in countries that have, in the past, been able to ignore basic human needs in pursuit of their authoritarian policies. I hope there will be even more use in the future to protect the public from government regimes.”

“Big Brother will be coming closer.”

“Technology firms are like any corporation. They exist to make money for their executives; that is most easily accomplished by being an ally of power or being power itself. They will do nothing that hurts their ability to serve or project power and income generation.”

“I hope it will be scenario one, but I fear it will be scenario two.”

“Tech companies tend to be liberal, and liberals love democracy and transparency. Hopefully, this will prevail.”

“Corporations’ responsibility only extends as far as profit margins permit.”

“There is a trend toward breaking down the for-profit, not-for-profit, and government realms in the United States, but it isn’t substantial. For over ten years, US theorists have been able to influence concepts of sectors globally, and this will be very difficult to undo. I see more green washing than true private sector responsibility. I see more blame given to nonprofits than support. I think it'll take over ten years to see real change in how the sectors work together.”

“They will strive to be profitable.”

“We are already seeing scenario two. What incentive does Cisco have to change its ways?”

“I hope the first scenario becomes true. I hope that this is jointly addressed by our government and business.”

“I can only hope that the scenario in which technology firms have a protective role in society is the scenario of the future. However, realistically there is no reason to believe that these firms would have any reason to be that altruistic.”

“As long as we have Congress, they’ll figure out how to pass some law to restrict free speech.”

“If, as I believe, the Internet is in the long run the ultimate engine for equanimity, then Western technology firms will (after equipping authoritarian regimes with technology sufficient to suppress dissent in the short term) engage in better practices as a matter of ethics and national security.”

“Autocratic governments will not trump mass social revolution if given the opportunity, time, and spark.”

“I hope scenario one is the case. North Africa is a prime example of the power of the Net.”

“I don't know—I only hope.”

“Choices were too opposing. Number one is only real in an idealized country, ha. Number two, not really. Companies with money run the governments.”

“Of course, businesses will build and provide tools that they will sell to democratic (fighting terrorism) and authoritarian governments. I believe the democratization of technology and computing power will continue and it will continue to have an impact on the enlightenment and democratization of the world.”

“Business trumps politics. When it doesn’t (as in Egypt when former President Mubarak blocked Internet access within the country), then protests appear to only be amplified.”

“Eek. I sure hope scenario one is how it plays out. I can envision that, left to their own devices, corporations and even the government would behave such that the second scenario would occur. That’s why we have to vote and be active!”

“People will always find a way to use technology to their benefit.”

“I don't believe companies are bigger than local governments—and the ones that try to be will be summarily ejected. At the end of the day we will need to decide whether we would rather have American companies in places like China slowly pushing an agenda of openness and commerce, or leave those markets to indigenous firms that will grow and compete with us back home.”

“Scenario 2020: The bottom line is what counts. As such, to the extent that governments continue to regulate corporations, corporations will minimize their ‘contribution’ as tools.”

“Powerful use of data has to be prevented from controlling or manipulating anything other than manufacturing processes.”

“Depending on the regime, we'll see action taken by communications companies to support protesters. In reaction to a protest in San Francisco, authorities shut down cellphone service in the BART. We're likely to see more human rights violations like this in the future.”

“The will to do good will ensure that the Arab Spring will grow and the capacity for communication to enhance freedom will emerge as one of the key elements of Internet activity.”

“What a noble cause, protecting citizens from autocratic governments. It would be my thought that these governments could simply sidestep the necessary protocol and force a shutdown of telecommunications without the assistance of firms. That being said, don’t think firms will make themselves less useful for this sort of activity.”

“Google promised not to ‘be evil’ but at one point they were collaborating with evil. Watchdogs will have to be in place. I don’t think the companies themselves will self-monitor. I’d hate to underestimate the power of informed citizen activists to hold companies accountable, so I’m optimistic.”

“Firms headquartered in settings with autocratic governments are not there for the good of the country’s citizens, but for their own gain, so it is likely that their decisions will continue to be based on self-motivation. This is unfortunate but not a surprise. We will always be able to find a way around them, and the Internet is an open space in which we do not necessarily need the technology firms.”

“Democratic countries will pass laws protecting citizens, but these protections will be breached and constantly challenged.”

“The growth of technology will increase our appreciation for humanity. Protecting democracy and ensuring fair play will increase in importance. Higher levels of connectedness will also exist. Everyone will know somebody in another country, and it will be easier to empathize when things go wrong or mistreatment occurs. ‘Us’ and ‘them’ thinking appears to be having a resurgence lately, but this will fade away.”

“Firms will take additional efforts to maximize security and safety toward citizens, but not at the risk of losing profit, which many government bodies would willingly provide.”

“I do not believe either alternative.”

“I would like to think the first scenario is realized, but I fear it is more likely the second.”

“Based on hope :-)”

“The future will undoubtedly fall somewhere between these two extremes. There will be a mix of responsible and irresponsible companies, and some authoritarian regimes will be more successful at coercing companies to follow their policies while other regimes will not.”

“Given that China is gaining influence, I really see corporations bowing to authoritarian regimes. We’ve already seen it with Google and Microsoft.”

“Scenario two is the way such things currently operate and I don't see why most businesses will change their models. What’s in it for them?”

“This may take longer to implement than 2020.”

“This is 50/50; for example, even in the US they blocked the Internet in California after an incident. People know how to get around this garbage of blocking.”

“I have no confidence that scenario one will take place without legislation and popular support.”

“I would prefer to believe the first option is more likely to occur.”

“The complexities of the choices are beyond the either/or choice on my part.”

“What can I say? We have already seen Google cave into the demands of the totalitarian People's Republic of China.”

"Promises of Net neutrality mean nothing unless they are enforceable.”

“Could be either—the idealist in me says yes to R2P, the cynic says no.”

“Simple—there is no revenue to be produced in political upheaval.”

“Corporations exist for one reason—to make money for shareholders.”

“The Western technology companies/firms will publically espouse the idea of R2P, but despotic governments (particularly in low- and middle-income countries) will ignore the companies’ philosophical commitments and simply find one or more companies whose greed and desire to make money will allow the despots to limit the use of the technologies in their countries.”

“I would hope for the first scenario but fear the second.”

“Twitter claims not to be filtering conversation within democratic countries, but it is. I no longer trust the ‘trending topic' list at all. Very disappointing.”

“Bad nondemocratic behaviour will create bad press for organizations, although, it will still exist on government insistence.”

“Control of information in any format is essential for survival of many governments.”

“Neither of the two. Corporate behaviour is not driven by fashion of technology but by bottom-line figures.”

“I hope scenario number one happens, but financial pressure is a powerful influence.”

“Seems like a logical extension of government, though I’d expect it to come from an international group, i.e., United Nations.”

“Transparency—legislated by the United Nations—will reveal corruption, malfeasance, inefficiencies by corporate or elected officials. Attempts to thwart these will quickly be exposed. Everyone will be better off.”

“Scenario one is true if we believe in a democratic system and the protections of our freedoms.”

“Corporations, even the ones that think they do no evil, do significant evil and just try to protect their bottom line.”

“As long as Google stays in power, scenario one will be true. If Facebook gains world dominion, then we are doomed.”

“I don’t think we need to wait until 2020, scenario two is happening today in many, many countries.”

“I doubt we will see quite the outpouring of social consciousness that scenario one suggests. But I agree more with the general direction detailed in scenario one than with the regressive alternative scenario. Part of the reason for my choice is that autocratic regimes will be unable to exert the level of control they do now.”

“I want to believe in scenario one, though I’m not sure it will happen.”

“I hope the first scenario will occur, although I’m not sure that will be the case. Greed may lead to the second scenario. However, I clicked the first because I am a hopeful person. Technology can be used for good.”

“A lot depends on how well corporations can hide these steps.”

“I really hope the first scenario emerges. Since laws and government policy are always playing catch-up with technology, this will most likely depend on what people we have in power in 2020.”

“It is all about the money. We already see that once-useful Internet tools are now all about adverts and subscriptions. Why should we believe that altruism will suddenly trump capitalism?”

“We see major backlash happening when tech companies accommodate repressive regimes. This will prevail.”

“Other countries will be making their own areas of communication. No matter what, there will always be those who can break codes and find what they want.”

“The secret lies in the fundamental design of the Internet —made to survive the impact of a thermonuclear war. That means, as a practical matter, that it is impossible to take out. There is no real center. Only by destroying the individual nodes in detail can you effectively knock out the Internet. That means that there will always be somebody, somehow, some way, getting the message through. Individual companies such as Google or Microsoft may have to make a devil’s bargain with a particular dictatorship like China. But this in and of itself will not shield China from the reality that Internet communication may be slowed, but it can never quite be stopped.”

“Scenario one will be a fine-line area, with many mistakes before it gets to where it needs to be.”

“Scenario two is just the way it is and will always be.”

“Doing business will, as usual, trump doing good. Autocratic countries are on the rise as consumers of goods.”

“Consumers will also demand that corporations source their materials ethically, which will create problems with being able to compete on price. Some companies will do it and others won't, so the market will be very uneven and confusing for consumers.”

“One can at least hope that technology will help in the development of international standards of conduct, human rights, and other limits to state sovereignty.”

“Sadly, money will trump ethics.”

“I wish for the alternative but I have little confidence that companies will protect the rights of individuals. Companies will either accede to the wishes of authoritarian regimes, or those regimes will create their own services and block others.”

“We can only hope technology firms will make the choice in protecting citizens and users. But unfortunately, some only care about what is most profitable. It will be up to the citizens to put pressure on corporations and demand that they be protected in an efficient way.”

“I would hope for scenario one, but money will rule. It always has. If more money can be made through cooperation with autocratic governments, only lip service will be given to trying to keep information to that government in check.”

“They will try to make their tools more useful than ever and use technology to their advantage.”

“As we can see from backlashes against Apple (Foxconn suicides), and massive support for Google in leaving China because of its censorship demands, most multinational IT companies will opt for keeping their customers happy in the advanced countries—if only for economic reasons (those customers have far more money, and thus influence).”

“Activism on the part of various groups, including Anonymous, will help to steer corporate citizens into doing the right thing. Given the division within the US Congress, I do not expect the legislative branch to take the lead on this issue.”

“Authoritarian regimes are like a cancerous body that crumbles from within and crushes under the weight of its own in-sustainability. As long as democratic countries are home to the most robust of markets, and as long as countries like China find themselves becoming less authoritarian as their economy grows, then technology firms will take care to not push against the political will of the countries with dominant economies. The political will in the dominant economies will perhaps dictate what is permissible in a way far more complex than total democracy or absolute authoritarianism precisely because political will in these countries is far more complex than these two bi-polarities.”

“The second scenario is the case now and is likely to continue. The problem of supranational companies will not be solved any time soon. The principals, at least, do not want jail time (see Russian experience, now also Australia’s regarding ISP independence).”

“The impulse to create the other option is strong by many parties especially as we see many old ideas under attack now—such as collective bargaining—but tech firms will recognize their strength is really in the openness and embrace their role in the world of competing ideas and ideologies, closing off no voice. I used to believe this about the media but now think this technology is our only hope to have/hold/frame/develop our own voices and the voices of the collective. If one of those fights is keeping tech firms honest and immune to political pressure, then fight I will.”

“Sadly, the second scenario is most likely, as corporations are far more beholden to profit than to integrity.”

“This all depends on who is in power. I could see it going either way, depending.”

“Autocracies are increasingly passé.”

“It adds to more information, people can already choose to block the information sharing on their own if they want.”

“Social media and the Internet will be at the forefront of even more social change.”

“If public policy and regulation fail to address this issue, the opportunities that the Internet can offer for democratic initiatives and public access to timely information and opportunity to influence government will decline.”

“Almost all technology companies are for-profit and can’t think of any which aren’t capitalist in nature. As such when it comes to dealing with autocratic/dictatorial regimes, principles usually go out the window in order to satisfy the bottom line. Unfortunately, capitalism, despite its faults, has triumphed over the left and there really aren't any new ideas (from the left or other) to take the Earth (physical or virtual) forward.”

“The international political landscape includes even a bigger share of influence by multi-national corporations. This is not new. I only see the multi-national corporation become more autonomous, or thinking they are especially in democratic countries.”

“Corporations are in it for the money. I have no faith in them and doubt if they would be willing to protect citizens from their governments if money is involved. I also have no faith that they will dissociate themselves from autocratic governments. It's about power and dominance not ethics.”

“My answer is more aspirational than predictive. Much will depend on the shape of the geo-political environment in 2020. Has China become more democratic? What is the effect of the Arab Spring? Is it a more open society, or, in fact, more isolation and suppression. If it is the former, then firms will be more willing to side with the majority. If it is the latter, then firms will wish to stake out a place in the neutral middle.”

“Telecommunications firm employees who attempt to resist authoritarian governments will be at risk and targeted by autocratic governments.”

“Tech companies will remain socially active and that activism will grow. This will likely not be tied to any specific political ideology though.”

“Western telecommunications companies will uphold R2P ideals.”

“This goes too far in saying ‘commercial firms derive significant income from filtering and editing their services on behalf of the world’s authoritarian regimes.’ I do believe technology companies will continue to filter and edit their services based on the rules and regulations of autocratic governments but I don’t think that they will make significant income from these services. In 2020 they will perform these tasks as a cost of doing business in these countries. I am saddened by this fact because I believe that these technology companies should stick by their missions regardless of where they are doing business, but profits always win, even for companies that focus on social good.”

“If a tech corporation won’t help political activists, they build up their own tools.”

“Business first, social responsibility a poor second.”

“The alternate response is too negative. The reality will be somewhere in between the two possible responses.”

“I’d like to hope that it’s the first option, but that’s not looking like the way things are going.”

“This is a hopeful response. Technology firms will almost always be in it for the profit, just like most other private sector entities in democratic societies. There are certainly examples of those who will advocate for the commons. But, because they are in it for profit, there will be a place for them to protect. It may cost something, but here is a hopeful nod to the financial support of such activities.”

“The World Wide Web is just too big to fit in a code. In the end, we are the government ourselves. Do you really want to live in a country where the government and your service providers control your Internet activity? I don't think so. And that is why I am glad to live in a democratic country where freedom of speech is of paramount importance.”

“Statement one is utopian, and I hope the future is something like what is described here.”

“The first statement seems correct to me.”

“Sadly, corporate greed will continue to take precedence over corporate responsibility.”

“I only wish I could choose the first scenario.”

“Isn't News International’s service to China a demonstration that we’re there already?”

“I’m not optimistic about this. If companies can find any excuse to avoid affecting their bottom lines, I think they will find the loop holes.”

“I hope for scenario one but suspect many firms will be like scenario two here.”

“One can only hope that there will remain a modicum of ethics and democracy left by 2020.”

“The possibilities are scary, aren’t they?”

“The first scenario is an idealistic fantasy to occur by 2020. There will be too many real political problems for society to deal with other than strong-arming corporations into submission.”

“We will always be under the watchful eye of Big Brother.”

“If corporations have their way, they will take the course of least resistance. Profit is still their overriding motive.”

“This can of worms is already open—Arab Spring. Once oppressed people can communicate, they will find a way, and the free world should help in every possible way.”

“Corporations will optimise their own benefit and will garner popular support mainly through claims, supported by modest attempts at delivery, of satisfying individual concerns and aspirations.”

“The profit motive is stronger than the human-rights motive, unfortunately.”

“Corporations will do whatever they need to maximize profits. If that means censorship and filtering on behalf of authoritarian governments, that’s what they’ll do. There may be protests about such practices in freer nations, but the profit motive will prevail. Fortunately, the desire of subjugated peoples to be free will drive underground, clandestine and portable technologies will permit them to set up alternate Internets, communication networks and much more.”

“This is the area with the most risk in my opinion. Technology companies will have to be careful about remaining objective and not becoming too influenceable or controllable by government entities. Citizens in democratic countries will need to continue to be vigilant and fight for those in countries with heavier restrictions in order to prevent information from being filtered. I have faith that we will continue to fight for this freedom.”

“So far it appears that communication technologies do serve to undermine autocratic states, and if these states reform and reorganize in ways that are favorable to market activity, it would be expedient to support such endeavors.”

“I have sadly chosen the second road because it mirrors the politics of wars in our world today. As I check the UN direction regarding war, rights, and protection of worldwide citizens, I sadly realize how ineffectual it is in our power-hungry world.”

“Let’s hope scenario one is true.”

“One can hope.”

“There’s no there there. If they can make money by soliciting democracy, providers will do it. And there’s more money here than there is cooperating with repressive powers”

“Someone will try to pass regulations and succeed. But overall, anyone who tries it will be relegated to a dust heap.”

“I hope that the trend toward scenario one continues.”

“I don't think the Big Brother scenario will dominate, although I believe that organizations like EFF will struggle to educate people on the dangers of government intervention.”

“Corporations will follow the shortest path to profit. Some corporations may see value, either directly or in reputation building, in building tools to assist dissidents and resist government oppression, and public opinion may somewhat dampen corporate willingness to help oppressive governments. However, more money will likely be made supplying technology to authoritarian regimes.”

“Firms and governments will fight for power and control. But governments will have the society with them.”

“This is a question of consumer trust. It seems obvious that consumers are becoming more aware of the ethical and human rights dimensions of ICT use, and the violations of ICT companies against these principles will be met with decreasing consumer trust, which, again, will reflect in their market position.”

“I am hopeful that the Internet and smart phones, with their video cameras, will allow individuals to take pictures of atrocities while they occur, when our media is not there and that individuals can use the Internet, as they have in the Arab Spring, to expand their political protest and increase their impact. They can be in a more equal, even competitive, position with the military and police if they too can share information, too.”

“R2P will happen, but am worried I’m whistling in the dark. Mostly there will be bumbling down a middle road between these two.”

“Technology firms will attempt to protect themselves in whatever way they can. The only question will be, ‘what will hurt us most?’ That may even result in moves to areas where there is the least impact on their activity.”

“Markets talk. China will demand scenario two.”

“Think the Occupy mentality will spread and there will be a resurgence of free speech activities/protections (I hope).”

“Technology firms are businesses—they are not morals-driven, they are profit-driven. The answer is the option that produces the greatest revenue and profit.”

“It is too optimistic to hope that a significant number of firms will adopt practices that put them in direct conflict with governments of countries in which they hope to do business. Unless there is a coming revolution in business ethics that I have not heard about, these businesses will continue to be willing to shut their ears for the sake of doing business.”

“Web companies are in business to make money.”

“Global tech firms that give even the impression that they are being used for negative political purposes will not survive.”

“It would be nice if scenario one were to actually happen.”

“Corporations must take cognizance and responsibility.”

“It is a matter of who has the biggest market and economic weight.”

“There will always be places that either in law or in fact place very few governmental constraints on private activity, and there will always be places that in law or in fact place very many and tight constraints. So I foresee a very mixed bag, especially if the development of consumer-only goods and services continues apace (e.g., the iPod, which has few, if any, corporate uses). I see regulation of worker and public safety growing a bit, but perhaps less than the worst fears of the libertarians but also less than the biggest hopes of corporations-are-evil crowd.”

“India would be in the center of every development.”

“Again, this is a political question, dependent upon the balance of democratic activism and corporate control.”

“Why should things change from what they are now? Do Apple, Google, and Microsoft work together for the common good? Corporations will work together for the good of the corporation.”

“Scenario two is already happening. There is no reason that it won't get worse—and the pressure is from and on the private sector because of revenue. Google caved. So did the cell phone providers.”

“I see a combination of the two. During the recent London riots the British government threatened to close down social networks, which were being used as vehicles to mobilise riots. Since then firms have agreed to encourage more responsible use of their platforms, though they have more recently said they will not bow to political pressure to shut down during periods of social and political unrest. They have all surrendered data concerning individuals to governments; however, they continue to be used as a global social and political voice by many. While it is good for firms to be linked with so called morally acceptable political movements, the overthrowing of oppression it is not commercially viable for them to be linked with less desirable movements or those that will harm their business interests abroad.”

“Democratic ideals will prevail so that the Western concepts of freedom spread, leading corporations to follow.”

“Technology firms headquartered in democratic countries will have to take steps to minimize their usefulness as tools for political organizing by dissidents. They will reason that too much association with sensitive activities will put them in disfavor with autocratic governments.”

“The wheels for this are already in motion with ACTA, Protect-IP, etc.”

“More and more we’re governed by corporations and until people realise this and demand true democracy, corporations will do what they are designed for: make money.”

“I see little incentive for most tech firms to take the responsible route. Governments of even the democratic countries will seek to control, monitor, and stifle, and they’ll give the necessary cover to the companies that play along.”

“The lack of interest in the Global Net Initiative makes me pessimistic.”

“There will not be much change from the status quo. Some firms, knowingly or not, will assist governments, but probably most will not.”

“I selected the optimistic scenario, but I am really not sure unless citizens and governments keep companies honest and regulated.”

“This is wishful thinking, but my hope is that the Bill Gateses and Larry Pages of the world will have a conscience and do what a democratic government and military do: maintain the peace and promote democracy.”

“The trend that is currently under way will continue.”

“Third option is that tech tools are both agents of democracy and tools of repression.”

“Profit will always be a motive that causes organizations to act in ways that benefit the organizations. However, as with public television, there likely will be public technology providers.”

“I hope scenario one happens.”

“We will take the cowardly middle path. Profits over people, of course, but, at the same time, I doubt ‘technology firms…will have taken steps to minimize their usefulness as tools for political organizing.’ Political organization is eerily similar to consumer mobilization, and that’s what they’re all after, isn’t it?”

“Perhaps for Europe, but American exceptionalism and Tea Party desires will keep the United States away from anything that will protect consumers from companies.”

“Over time firms will be compelled to care about their users’ rights to privacy and free expression just as they have been compelled to adopt responsible environmental and labor practices.”

“If you look at censorship today, it is not companies that do it or want to, it is governments. Companies want people to use their technologies, and they do not lightly accept pressures from governments to regulate speech. It is not clear how this will all play out, and I do not accept the premise of either scenario. Instead, I think what is likely to happen is that technologies will continue to advance, making it harder for authoritarian governments to track and/or force citizens to accept censorship.”

“I hope for scenario one.”

“You can’t hold back the waters of freedom.”

“Scenario one. I hope so!

“Things could go either way, or they could remain muddled, as I perceive them to be today.”

“The rebels will always have an edge, no matter what the oligarchs do. Especially if Windows is any part of the future.”

“Man, I’d like to be idealistic about this one. But we’re talking roughly eight years from now!  Don't think so.”

“Neither scenario is likely where corporations act as current corporations do, without impunity. They will neither protect nor help citizens and will behave with profit as a motivation. If a country (like China) has a large economic concern, corporations will respond in due course, unless it would interfere with profits in a democratic nation.”

“The Arab Spring gave witness to the rise of technology’s transformative capacity to effect political change. The opposite could also occur in those autocratic countries where deployment and use of sophisticated technologies produced in democratic states may be compelled to subordinate democratic concepts of fundamental rights and freedoms to continue marketing their products in such authoritarian regimes. We’ve seen hints of such intimidation in China, the Middle East and other world regions. Do we really expect Russia, for example, under Vladimir Putin to allow the free flow of information when his continuance in office is threatened by a ‘Russian Thaw?’”

“Even in democratic countries, such as the United States, tech firms have been pressured already in this new decade to betray the trust of users who are engaged in dissent or disobedience of one form or another. Smart dissidents are already eschewing electronic communications were necessary. Private firms, especially those legally obliged to protect the interest of shareholders above all else, should not even be expected to operate by any R2P, et al., norms.”

“Good question! How about what responsibility will tech firms in democratic countries have toward their own citizens?”

“Arab Spring: helped organize and connect people and movements. Occupy Wall Street: blocked by online newspapers and, I think I read, Google and Twitter (as a trending topic). But I’m going to assume here that people will use the Internet to subvert and challenge the status quo. What’s that got to do with technology firms? Maybe nothing.”

“This is beyond my understanding of corporate responsibility since often corporations don't seem to have morals.”

“I would like the optimistic scenario to occur, and so vote this way.”

“This is a scenario that will be driven by disenfranchised citizens. Commercial interests will be challenged to remain open.”

“I do not anticipate much change compared to the current situation. The buzz of social responsibility will probably get stronger at least for a little while, but the practices will remain as diverse as they are today.”

“History has shown that those who favor disproportionate control of other people will eventually fall. Democracy in all things will prevail. People adopt services that respect their basic human rights.”

“I’d love a world with R2P. In reality, I think things will be more like the second scenario, with a few companies making themselves known for systems like R2P. When the banks turned on Wikileaks, it made sense. But when Amazon caved, I lost what little delusional faith I had in private corporate interests supporting certain public needs.”

“Abiding by a set of norms is always a hope rather than a given. Yet the decision by the UK government not to shut down social media during civil unrest is a hopeful sign. BART's planned shutdown of cell phones drew protest. Just as civil and human rights have been taken up by governments in the past, so, too, does access to communications tools become a civil right and a better for debate in governments worldwide.”

“Firms will be supportive and even more involved with governments in 2020.”

“Living in a capitalist society as I do, I don’t believe it is a technology firm’s best interest to selectively monitor or block Internet activity of protestors at the behest of an authoritarian government. I have read stories in the press how in other countries where this has been tried recently, alternate means were developed to circumvent monitoring and blocking. Technology firms need to develop ethics policies that clearly describe their philosophy.”

“Big firms have big government contracts and they will help governments not citizens—witness Amazon and Wikileaks.”

“Not protecting the users of your site would most likely cause the site to crumble, and people would begin using a different site that didn’t participate in limiting their freedom of speech.”

“Democracy is democracy, online or offline.”

“In 2020, we’ll be closer to increased globalization. Technology firms will have to scrutinize their individual actions as closely as perhaps the president and every individual citizen. Corporate responsibility will increase and monitoring of these entities will increase, as well.”

“I hope for scenario one.”

“The next generation will control the flow of information and the people on the street will have technology equal to or better than the telecommunications companies. Free flow of positive information will be unstoppable and alternative sources or systems of communications will make authoritarian control next to impossible.”

“Political correctness is the mantra of the day. Firms will have morphed into the desires of the society to abide.”

“The corporate citizen will protect itself first, and that means bowing to pressure from governments.”

“Attempts will be made to limit people in using technology, but those attempts will fail.”

“Since when did technology firms develop a conscience?”

“I don't think corporations will change in the next decade. They exist to make a profit. The ‘neutral’ Swiss corporations, for example, manufactured anti-aircraft weapons for the Nazis. I can’t think of any motivation that would cause a corporation to act on moral grounds.”

“Technology firms want more users. Period. Sadly it’s good press for them to be blocked. Gives us a reason to tout freedom of speech.”

“I have to believe that companies will do the right thing and not sell out to dictators.”

“Political considerations are not the priority of technology companies. They will pursue the usual course of profits first. Political organizing will remain the realm of a small cadre of committed activists.”

“My hope is scenario one!”

“It will take longer than until 2020 for ethical practices to be in place worldwide.”

“Unfortunately, I can't see R2P come to pass without a real revolution.”

“I hope for scenario one. Let’s stick with free speech.”

“Corporations are very practical, and anything that hurts the bottom line will be abandoned. They are apolitical and will help dictators, as well as democracies.”

“Would that it were the other scenario. But I am afraid we are already on the downward road, witness authoritarian reactions to Occupy Wall Street.”

“Businesses will do what they need to do to operate. Countries will control what happens within their borders and will do what they want. The change will come about through systems that can’t be controlled by a government and will allow direct, unfettered access to information. Governments will always be trying to block and inhibit these avenues of communication and expression, however.”

“I don’t care for either of the choices. Left unregulated, tech firms will try and make a buck. If making that buck means that a bunch of Egyptians die, I really don't think they care. Will they say they adhere to some nebulous standard? Sure. And the government will come in, subpoena private records, and we’ll see that the whole thing was a sham. Just like with AT&T and the Patriot Act.”

“Today's corporate leadership is more familiar with the Net, but we need to wait for today's Wall Street occupiers to be tomorrow’s corporate leadership to see R2P.”

“The power always lies with the most powerful.”

“I’d like to think corporations will be responsible, but I’m not sure. Businesses that choose to provide tools for autocratic governments will actively try to hide it.”

“I’ll be optimistic here, though, and posit that the ‘significant penalties in other markets’ would outweigh the cash from authoritarian regimes.”

“I have to believe that the United States will lead the democratic countries of the world to protect people and not autocratic governments.”

“I am pessimistic. In our current society the bottom line and the shareholders seem to matter more than the common good. We care more about capitalism than we do democracy. We need only to look at the behaviors of Big Pharma to see this model already in place throughout the world.”

“I am not sure that either extreme will actually be the future, but the first instance is more likely given how much pressure is put onto corporations for human rights and humanitarian aid in foreign countries where they have a presence. I can see how they would be or could be penalized for interfering with communications during some political uprising in a foreign country.”

“This all depends on the next generation of corporate leaders. I selected the latter as more likely because in my experience it’s the easier solution.”

“Given that corporations can now behave as people in the United States, I do not see them as lowering their power over politics and people.”

“Communicating or social networking is the norm at the moment, and I believe they will be more powerful in the future. No country will be capable of blocking or monitoring any activity.”

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