Peter Gabriel Makes Case For Internet Freedom

By Neha Prakash | Mashable

MASHABLE - Music phenom Peter Gabriel took the stage at this year’s Social Good Summit to tout the power of connectivity on Saturday.

Gabriel said he believes that connectivity has caused humanity evolve. It’s now a place of awareness and empathy, where people can recognize their own experiences in the lives of others, share their own stories and ultimately create change, he said.

“It’s just this whole other way of working,” Gabriel said. “It’s part of what makes people feel so powerful.”

Andrew Rasiej, a self-described “professional doer,” social entrepreneur and founder of Personal Democracy Media, spoke with Gabriel. Rasiej commented on the Arab Spring, and how the protests could not be quelled even when government leaders yanked the Internet cables out from underneath them.

“You can shut off the public Internet, but you can’t shut up the Internet public,” he said.

Gabriel agreed, saying the Internet “transcends,” and that protests can no longer be “contained and controlled,” like they used to be. He added, though, that people must be responsible when harnessing this power, as it can be used negatively.

“My biggest hope is that people’s power will become a reality,” Gabriel said. “My biggest fear is it’ll be turned on its head.”

Mobile, data and privacy is often a “cat and mouse game,” he said, adding that those with agendas may get there first.

But the Internet has a larger role than just politics, and Gabriel believes that every sector including healthcare, education, the economy and culture can be affected with connectivity — specifically, the power of mobile, which helps users access information immediately.

“This will empower us, and suddenly we have choices,” he said.

Gabriel is launching his own “earth catalog” for social good in Spring 2013. Thetoolbox.org will act as an ecosystem for action, something that people can visit to “get guidance or give help.” It will have a personal dashboard and accompanying app, he said.

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