I spend a fair amount of time on the interwebs. I am considered myself a level 9 crypto-wizard, with a 4.46 ppe on the meme scale, and that kid on the book was based on my image. So, as you’d expect, I’m a little bit excited to be talking about the internet again. Specifically, I’m going to be talking about my least favourite forms of internet control.
Okay, so you’ve probably heard this phrase a couple hundred times. In case you’ve never encountered it, it’s essentially the idea that ISPs, and further governments, should not block, restrict or favour access to content. Though the implementation of anti-neutrality laws would mean that ISPs could restrict access to certain data, it also means that they could restrict data flow and essentially hold your bandwidth to ransom.
This found outrage, more than anywhere else, in the United States. In a post-GFC, corporately-aware America, the idea that exclusivity and market control would enter what was previously a relatively uncorrupted sector hit a nerve with very vocal sections of the American public (Metha, 2015); and even companies that made their fortune on the internet. In the end, net neutrality was defended, with very few concessions made, by the FCC in February 2015. Sweet, so that’s some comment about the economic freedom of the internet. What’s next?
As I mentioned earlier, I’m one of the freakbags that inhabits the internet. As such, I am worried about the future. As the internet becomes both more mainstream and more powerful, I worry about the increasing focus there is on the internet, either justified or not, and it’s role. Because of this increasing power, I believe that eventually the internet will be restricted and limited. By god, I hope I’m dead by then.
Access to the internet allows you not just to access media, but to produce it and have it distributed en mass. Because of this duality, the internet is viewed by many of its users as the last free media platform in the world (Wiseman, 2015). In most western countries, anyway. What can be said of the Australian internet experience is completely different to that of the Chinese, Turkish and many others. Numerous countries around the world already hold tight control over the internet, making the imposition of internet restrictions in Australia, at least in concept, a possibility.
Who doesn’t love this guy?
Of course, government surveillance of media is nothing new. I’m sure it happens more than we are aware, as Snowden would attest, but what worries me most in the apparent move toward legislating and popularising internet surveillance in the public. Australia is already heading down a kinda awkward road, what with the whistle blower and blackout laws, but these things are to be expected. The real danger, I believe, lies with the likes of Brandis stirring public sentiment toward agreeing to surveillance. I long ago accepted that certain politicians would like to bring greater power, direct and through surveillance, to the state. What bothers me the most is that, at least in the Australian context, there is growing public support, manufactured or legitimate, for surveillance and internet control. That’s what scares me the most, rather than a government seeking restrictions and surveillance of its people, a people seeking to restrict and monitor themselves.
Mehta, A 2015, ‘Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy: Values in the U.S. Net Neutrality Debate’, International Journal Of Communication, 9, pp. 3460-3468
Weisman, DL 2015, ‘The Political Economy of Net Neutrality Regulation’, Economists’ Voice, 12, 1, pp. 13-18