Would the Protestant Reformation have happened without the printing press? Would the American Revolution have happened without pamphlets? Probably not. But neither printing presses nor pamphlets were the heroes of reform and revolution.
In China, the problem is that with the system of censorship that's now in place, the user doesn't know to what extent, why, and under what authority there's been censorship. There's no way of appealing. There's no due process.
There is no country on Earth where Internet and telecommunications companies do not face at least some pressure from governments to do things that would potentially infringe on users' rights to free expression and privacy.
In the United States, whatever you may think of Julian Assange, even people who are not necessarily big fans of his are very concerned about the way in which the United States government and some companies have handled Wikileaks.
Human freedom increasingly depends on who controls what we know and, therefore, how we understand our world. It depends on what information we are able to create and disseminate: what we can share, how we can share it, and with whom we can share it.
Compliance with the Stop Online Piracy Act would require huge overhead spending by Internet companies for staff and technologies dedicated to monitoring users and censoring any infringing material from being posted or transmitted.
While American intellectual property deserves protection, that protection must be won and defended in a manner that does not stifle innovation, erode due process under the law, and weaken the protection of political and civil rights on the Internet.
If multi-stakeholder Internet governance is to survive an endless series of challenges, its champions must commit to serving the interests and protecting the rights of all Internet users around the world, particularly those in developing countries where Internet use is growing fastest.
Like it or not, Google and the Chinese government are stuck in a tense, long-term relationship, and can look forward to more high-stakes shadow-boxing in the netherworld of the world's most elaborate system of censorship.
If they lose their legal basis for owning a .cn domain, google.cn would cease to exist, or if it continued to exist, it would be illegal, and doing anything blatantly illegal in China puts their employees at serious risk.
Companies should have a due diligence process to determine the likelihood that their technologies will be used to carry out human rights abuses before doing business with a particular country or distributor.
The potential for the abuse of power through digital networks - upon which we the people now depend for nearly everything, including our politics - is one of the most insidious threats to democracy in the Internet age.
For centuries, the Yangtze River - the longest in Asia - has played an important role in China's history, culture, and economy. The Yangtze is as quintessentially Chinese as the Nile is Egyptian or the Rhine is German. Many businesses use its name.
While sanctions against Iran and Syria are intended to constrain those countries' governments, they have had the unfortunate side effect of constraining activists' access to free online software and services used widely across the Middle East, including browsers, online chat applications, and online storage services.
Digital power is every bit as likely to be abused as physical power, but is often more insidious because it is often wielded in the background until its results manifest themselves in the offline world.
Speech within the kingdom of Amazonia - run by its sovereign Jeff Bezos and his board of directors with help from the wise counsel and judgment of the company's executives - is not protected in the same way that speech is constitutionally protected in America's public spaces.
Almost every week, there are stories in the press or on Chinese social media about what even the official Chinese media call 'hot online topics:' stories about how people in a particular village or town used Weibo to expose malfeasance by local or regional authorities.
One thing is very clear from the chatter I see on Chinese blogs, and also from just what people in China tell me, is that Google is much more popular among China's Internet users than the United States.
Intermediary liability enables the Chinese authorities to minimize the number of people they need to put in jail in order to stay in power and to maximize their control over what the Chinese people know and don't know.
It is time to stop debating whether the Internet is an effective tool for political expression and instead to address the much more urgent question of how digital technology can be structured, governed, and used to maximize the good and minimize the evil.