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Monday 30 April 2012

Maybe We Need A New Internet

Over the last decade or so, you probably have noticed that all of the world's governments have been trying to limit your on-line freedom.  Communist states, demockeries, dictatorships and monarchies alike all seek to control what you see, hear, and write on the interwebs.  This should not be surprising to anyone.  All governments fear the free flow of information and ideas, even our western governments.  It's simple, really.  The less you know about how your government is screwing you over, the more they can keep screwing you over while filling their pockets with your hard-earned gold.  The less you are able to communicate with your fellow citizens, the easier it is for government to do whatever it likes to you.  But the Internet changed all of that, and now twenty-five years on they figure they have to do something about it.  Governments have even set up GONGOs like ParentPort to convince you it is a good idea.  It's about control.

About a year ago, I read this Electronic Frontier Foundation article that suggested we need an Open Wireless Movement.  I remember thinking at the time that it was nice in principle, but that before everyone actually did so, a whole lot of innocent people might get arrested because someone used their WiFi to do something naughty or illegal.  Indeed, people have already been falsely charged with crimes because they didn't know their network was unsecured and open to any passers-by.  Suffice it to say, the only way an Open Wireless Movement could work is that if everyone opened their networks all at once, which frankly is not going to happen any time soon because a lot of our ISPs allow us only a limited amount of data for uploading and downloading under their fair use policies.

So, it is down to control again.  ISPs control the bandwidth on their networks by various means, governments try to control the content, and ultimately the users and freedom suffer.

It seems to me that what we really need is an open Internet.  One without any gateways or key holders.  Everyone will be able to access it all the time, with no restrictions on content or bandwidth.  It would be free of charge and it would be organic, meaning that nobody could control it, it would simply exist.  Every device would be both a receiver and transmitter, all of them open gateways to the free flow of information.  If you didn't want to see things like porn on this open Internet, you alone (or your parents) would be responsible for installing the appropriate filters on your device. 

To be honest, I wouldn't have the first clue how it would or could work in theory or in practice.  But I can see that such a thing would stop the nannies in their tracks.  If no one had control, then no one could exercise control. 

Well, it's a nice dream.  Maybe some day it will happen.  I'm not holding my breath.  It's 2012 and we still don't have rocket pants or flying cars.  I'd settle for a teleporter in the meantime.

Ain't Gonna Happen Any Time Soon