The internet is often known as our “digital public square.” But like any shared space, it is never neutral: It must have politics. As we stand at a crossroads of contention around internet governance, these politics are being called into question and reshaped.
Will the internet’s town square be like Tiananmen Square, locked down behind barriers, checkpoints, and under heavy surveillance, where any hint of public dissent gets swept away? Will the internet be more like Times Square, a mashup of private and public spaces competing for your attention with advertisements, technically open but with heavily armed police officers and surveillance cameras? Or maybe it will be more like the wide-open space of Washington DC’s National Mall, negotiated and controlled by government and private groups with competing political agendas.