The Slovenia Times

Debate points to pros and cons of open internet


Former Minister of Information Society Pavel Gantar compared efforts to keep the internet unregulated to complaints by early drivers who did not want traffic regulated when cars first appeared. This is why he believes GDPR, which aims to protect people's personal data, was a step in the right direction.

The EU's General Data Protection Regulation was also hailed by Peter Sterle of the Education Ministry as a measure that tries to protect the user without closing the internet. However, he believes that unregulated cyber space has many potential negative aspects.

The power of social media could be considered as such, as they give "immense power" to politicians. According to Gantar, social media have fundamentally changed political discourse, as politicians no longer have to rely on traditional media to take their words around the world.

"The US president has 55.3 million followers [on Twitter]. His message instantly gets to people from all over the world. There is no processing, no media analysis. This is an incredible power," he said.

Journalist Ali Žerdin pointed to the paradox of the state trying to fight the proliferation of hate speech on the internet, "when the most powerful statesman in the world ... contributes to social media being flooded with hate speech and fake news spreading even faster than without his intervention".

Sterle also pointed out that new technologies had been used for spreading hate speech before, for instance radio, "which was a great tool of Nazism".

Nevertheless, the internet can also be used to strengthen democracy, for instance via e-elections, according to Tone Kajzer, a state secretary in the prime minister's office. But his case for Estonia, which has e-elections for some years now, was quickly shot down by other participants.

According to Gorazd Božič, the boss of the national cybersecurity centre SI-CERT, Estonia uses electronic elections for political marketing to be seen as a modern country, "but it does not reveal how much money it uses to protect the system from cyberattacks".

He warned against taking any quick decisions, because systems like elections require long-term design.

Gašper Bertoncelj of the Academic and Research Network of Slovenia (ARNES) pointed to the possibility of someone "looking from behind your back seeing who you'll vote for".


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