The Internet and Academic Freedom

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Science  06 Jul 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6090, pp. 13
DOI: 10.1126/science.1226099


The internet is as valuable a research tool as any microscope or magnetic resonance imaging scanner. It was shaped by researchers and academics who wanted to collaborate across campuses, then across borders. Many aspects of scholarship are now conducted online. This is particularly true in the sciences. Researchers around the globe store data in the “cloud” and analyze those data with software that requires connectivity. And critical discussions are routinely conducted by e-mail and videoconferencing. But the academic freedom that is often taken for granted depends on an Internet that is maintained as an open platform for the free exchange of information and ideas—or “Internet freedom.” At present, Internet freedom is threatened across the globe, and this should concern scientists and other academics as much as it does human rights activists.