> If it were the ultimate tool for "freedom and anarchy" would that be a good thing for society?
In my opinion: fuck yeah.
> Imagine if you couldn't trust the data on wikipedia
Do you trust it right now? Would you use it for mission-critical tasks?
The very premise of wikipedia is write-openness. Everyone using it should have that in mind and exercise common sense when reading informations there. If anything, it should remind us that every piece of written information published in our society may have bias or may be factually wrong. Even the most respected houses of publishing have their agendas. In my opinion, Wikipedia is upfront about its "vulnerability" and, therefore, people read it more critically than traditional media.
> Or if your bank account access could be spoofed
> Or your emails could be read by anyone
These cases are solved by digital encryption, specifically, one that is not plagued with backdoors. In the "social control" version of the Internet, we'd either be denied the right to encrypt, or the encryption mechanisms would have backdoors mandated by the governments. It follows that in the "anarchy and freedom" version of the Internet, where there is non-backdoor encryption, spoofings and eavesdropping would not occur.
It is important to note that, right now, we are closer to social control extreme on this subject, seeing as our encryption models rely on authorities supposed honest (the certificate authorities). A sufficiently powerful government could influence CAs on collaborating in spoofings and eavesdropping activities. We cannot observe this signing process - right now, we simply assume CAs are to be trusted, because we feel that governments haven't sunk so low in the social control measure. Should social control show its ugly face in the future, the only way we could achieve real secrecy and authenticity of communications would be having the sender and the receiver directly exchange public keys - preferably in person. By any metric, this is impractical, and could seriously hamper commercial usage of the network.
> Or even a reputable site by a known firm with a reputation to protect would use online tools to deceive
Yes, that indeed is a problem on the "anarchy and freedom" version of Internet. But how, exactly, does the "social control" version address this problem?
> What if lone individuals could topple governments and cause international diplomatic incidents?
So, we should suppress any speech that rats out illegal or inhuman actions to avoid embarassing governments? If a lone individual is aware and has evidence a government is doing something wrong, it is his duty to expose it. It does not matter if there are multiple nations involved. A perfect example of this would be e
extraordinary renditions, waterboarding, Abu Grahib and yes, the cablegate. The more government critters are afraid of being exposed, the better they will behave, and the more the people have control over their leaders.
Human societies were built upon the trust of individuals between each other. Problem is, the larger a group of people gets, the less we appreciate the externalities that our actions inflict upon others. We trust governments, far away as they are from our daily reality, to care for problems we are not specialized enough nor able to care. This trust depends on there being good checks and balances; social control of Internet is a weapon too powerful to be satisfactorily checked.