I mentioned in my previous article on how freedom of the Internet is being eroded that this is a fight that we can never stop fighting. Every time we defend our Internet freedom against an attack we should rejoice, and then get ready for the next attack.
The next attack is currently being launched by AT&T and Comcast.
When you read this you may actually “wtf” in real life, I sure did.
What AT&T is doing is suing for the right to completely restrict all Internet access, for all their subscribers, in whatever way they choose.
What’s their argument? Oh, that’s simple. They are claiming that if they don’t have the right to control everyone’s Internet then that would be a violation of their right to free speech.
I shit you not.
AT&T is claiming that a corporation’s right to free speech allows it to restrict the Internet access, and thus free speech, of anyone stupid enough to sign up with them. First off the idea that a non-human entity like a company even has the right to freedom of speech is pretty damn odd. But to then further claim that this right supersedes that of real humans is utterly bizarre.
And didn’t Milton Friedman argue that corporations are free of all moral constraints? So…what? They have all of the rights of being human but none of the responsibilities?
If Capitalism worked the way it was supposed to then customers would simply flee AT&T and sign up with another provider. Sadly that won’t happen, because as soon as AT&T’s court battle is over it will free all communications companies to take advantage of the ruling.
The others won’t even have to go to court. Some won’t even have to tell their customers, they’ll just do it and damn the consequences.
If AT&T wins then everyone loses, automatically.
The most likely way that the companies will abuse this power is by privileging certain content over other content.
For example let’s say Flickr gives AT&T a fat wad of cash for “premium service”. That would mean that your access to Flickr works just fine, but your access to Photobucket (or any other image hoster) will suddenly start travelling at a crawl.
Of course AT&T will give you full speed access to anything you want, but only if you also fork out a fat wad of cash for the “premium” rate.
And what are the chances that small websites, who are trying to compete with the big guns, will have even the slightest chance of outbidding them for decent service?
Freedom of the Internet and Internet innovation will both be gone in one ruling. It will be the end of Net Neutrality.
I swear to god children, if Obama fucks this up he will automatically drop from my nice list right down onto my shitlist.
So if you’re an American you need to get scared and start fighting this, right now.
If you’re not American then you need to become aware of these issues and prepare yourself to fight later, because as soon as the US companies show how much money they can make by strangling their users’ service you can bet your donkey that communications companies in your own country will want a piece of the action.
Like I said last time guys the amount of money that could be made from the Internet is effectively infinite. If you don’t think that companies are trying to figure out ways to take control of the Internet then you have badly misunderstood the situation.
The technology to do it already exists. Many ISPs already throttle P2P service, and there is no reason why that control couldn’t be made more broad.
If, for example, ISPs start restricting access to certain websites or other content then the only ways to get around their control is to either become a hacker or to start your own ISP.
Good luck with that.
The only reason the Internet is still pretty free is because people are currently paranoid about losing that freedom, and react badly to any suggestion that it is being threatened.
This can’t last forever unless we make it last.
But actually, scratch what I said above; it doesn’t count as “paranoia” if it’s actually true.
Things are worse than I thought. France is now censoring the Internet.
FRANCE! A fucking democratic country! And they aren’t just censoring the ‘Net they are doing it without any legal oversight: If the president says ISPs must block all access to a certain website then that’s what they need to do.
This is bad news guys.
Very, very bad news.
Firstly, because it’s just obviously bad news.
But secondly because once laws like this are on the books they are unlikely to ever be repealed. They give the powerful more power, and thus no one who has the power to change things really wants to do so.
[Standard Disclaimer: this post was entirely my own opinion and was not paid for in any way, directly or otherwise, by anyone or anything that stands to gain in any way from the ideas expressed herein.]