So today a campaign launched to once again raise awareness that there are companies and groups fighting for the levers of power over what is known as the internet. We all know that piracy has been a main reason for the push for legislation, but what about free speech?
As you may or may not know this week Syria was cut off from the internet for about 48 hours. This was purely strategic, as it was known that rebel forces used the likes of twitter to plan and organize their attacks. When the cost of human life comes into the spotlight, it is always easy to argue that there is nothing one can compare it to, because there is no greater loss. The same can be said for guns, an invention that revolutionized the way we hunt, and caused us to think twice before deciding to deprive another of any of their basic freedoms. The Gun can be seen as an invention that both levels the playing field, and also can nearly destroy it at the same time..
I feel the internet is very much the same, a place that can not only level the playing field, but alter the field altogether. What makes the internet more like a gun and less like a game is that actual lives can be put in jeopardy as the result of ones actions. Everything from planning an attack to revealing secret documents uncovering the identities of spies can affect human life, even in unforeseen ways. It is in the best interests of those in power to have control over the flow of data and information [or so they think], because then measures can be taken to assure their image is not tarnished, and the secret is never revealed. However, what amounts to the truth in theory wouldn’t tarnish an honest person’s reputation, so all that exists on the internet shouldn’t matter because what is truth will always surface and make more sense in most cases. Combine with that with a day and age where anyone can instantly communicate with anybody else, and the world is smaller than ever. There may be talk and there may be rumors but the best part of the internet is that both sides of the story are there for the reader to make their own interpretation. In my opinion, more often than not, the story which is true is at least presented to the reader. This has almost never been the case before.
Take into account the only way to learn about current events in the past was from the news, whether it be broadcast or print, it was handled by some agency that went out and gathered that news. This always presents one side of the story in detail, while stating what may be the contrasting case, often it’s components aren’t covered in great detail if at all. This is almost always the case if the media shows bias, how does one expect to get the full story? In the case of American media, the Associated Press basically gives stories to every media outlet in the US, creating a single point of control allowing the potential for bullshit to come spewing out the mountain.
Now let’s look at the internet, a point where information from joe schmo can be announced, and anyone else potentially find that, and conclude for themselves what to think. We can research and reach our own opinions, we can see what a general concencus thinks about a given piece of news and then decide whether or not it’s true. This internet, as we know it now is a place where anyone that has been inspired to create and post content has a shot at being a star, watched and followed by millions of people.. Even if you’re a redneck living in the middle of nowhere in Canada. The best part is, these internet stars will actually reply to you directly most of the time, allowing closer interaction than any starstuck person could have ever hoped for. Only this place can give hope to the person who wants to teach themselves math, english, electronics, or nuclear physics, and in the same space allow the citizens of a post-financially terrorized Iceland to write and impliment a new constitution. That’s right, many societies went from building houses and gawking at advertisements by big fancy corporations to creating art, finding soulmates, and building new countries online. For the first time ever people can participate with the rest of the world instead of stare at it!
Enter the reason we are seeing all this headache for legislation. There is a huge effort by many filthy rich old fucks to gain authoritarian control the internet as we know it today. Why is this? Because it’s a threat to vulture capitalism, a direct threat on the dinosaur media / content creators of yesteryear. (who obviously don’t understand that a bottom line in business that hurts people doesn’t fly with the rest of the world and therefore wouldn’t in an online setting) Who do we have to thank for that? Most people are quick to point out dirty politicians and therefore the government, but I feel that’s further from the truth. Those politicians are paid to be there (in cash or kickbacks), by the very people that want to change the legislation, these people hide behind “free enterprise” often and appear to be “the good guys”.. Free enterprise to them means the freedom for corporations to freely reap profit, whether it be sacrificing some innocent people in China or India, or buying politicians to create tax breaks allowing the likes of GE and American Electric Power to pay no taxes (yet leave small business the “bread and butter of the economy” paying 40% taxes) and in some cases actually end up making money thanks to government. It revealed to us for the first time ever how the super wealthy like Mitt Romney (unlike his father) in today’s society earn their fortunes. (No, I don’t favor Obama, I didn’t vote for either of them.)
The threat is that some intelligent person like me can piece together what’s going on, write an article about it and site all my references with links to articles that are also online. All it takes is people to stop being afraid of the internet and start using it for knowledge and action. The internet empowers each individual as much that individual embraces it. The same can be said for companies. The internet survived evolution, and ultimately was created for the greater good. Sure there are attacks from major governments, but interestingly enough the truth always surfaces. Very cool.
So of course the internet should remain free, for anyone with any basic grasp on what actually happens online this is obvious. It provides freedom by design, as companies and governments try to control this firehose of information freedom, remember that the internet has no militia (yet casualties can happen), and just like any true democracy each inhabitant must equally fight and exert one’s own efforts to protect those freedoms. Government will not do it for us, unless our interests align with the likes of the MPAA, RIAA, Time Warner, and Comcast.
I for one, refuse to sit in any prison, even one where Its walls are data. World peace one day could actually be attained if the internet is kept open. It’s time to stop focusing on keeping the status quo of the lies and face the facts that people are losing their lives and it needs to stop.