The Internet keeps functioning thanks to the efforts of an army of unsung heroes, a Harvard cyberlaw expert told a tech conference yesterday. The professor used as an example Pakistan's attempt last year to take YouTube offline—the site went down across the world, but volunteers from a tech forum had it back up within hours. "It's like when the bat signal goes up and Batman answers the call," Jonathan Zittrain tells the BBC.
The Internet's fragile architecture, and the social networks that keep it running, are products of the unique circumstances of its creation, Zittrain explained. When computer scientists like Vint Cerf conceived the sending of data through networks, "their limitation was that they didn't have any money," Zittrain said at the conference. "But they had an amazing freedom, which was that they didn't have to make any money from it." (Read more Internet stories.)