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Simon van Kempen: Democracy -- for whom?

As I write this column on my Blackberry, I'm sitting in a hotel in Cairo overlooking three pyramids.

As I write this column on my Blackberry, I'm sitting in a hotel in Cairo overlooking three pyramids.



As Alex & I were planning this trip (we're here for some business meetings) I monitored the protests in Tahrir Square as Egypt slowly moves to post Mubarak democracy. In Egypt, as in Tunisia and other northern African countries, cell phones and social media certainly sped the process of the citizen's revolt, and thus were a boon for democracy. Remember demos is Latin for "of the people."



Now as I sit in Egypt I'm able to read on my same blackberry live updates of the parliamentary committee in London, as they interview two senior (but now former) London policeman, as well as Rupert Murdoch, his son James and the recently arrested Rebekah Brooks.



This scandal also has to do with cell phones but whereas in Egypt these phones assisted the people to rise up and overthrow the state, in Britain the press, seemingly with the police largely oblivious, used the people's phones against them.



While it was known to only involve rich celebrities the people didn't care, but once it became known that a murdered 12-year-old girls phone had been hacked, the people finally revolted.



So what does this tell us, if anything? We all know the good that can come from having communication at our fingertips but what's worse? Oppressive dictatorships shutting down cell access to limit protest plans or oppressive newspapers spying on those wittingly or unwittingly in the public eye?



Somehow I think the government in Britain is going to see a shake up of almost Egyptian proportions.

 
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