I decided to take a break from my usual blog posts and talk about something that I feel is important to me—and all of us; all internet users—shopping, entertainment, communication, education, enlightenment and well, just about every aspect of our lives, these days.
In yet another attack on our civil liberties, lawmakers have voted to roll back a set of privacy rules that would prohibit internet providers from selling or sharing web browsing history without a consumer’s consent and it is expected that DT is going to sign the bill. That, in and of itself, skirts unconstitutionality—in my opinion, but on top of that his White House is pushing to remove net neutrality meaning that not only could Internet Service Providers (ISP) buy every detail of our browsing history, they could ostensibly turn around and charge us more for doing what we like to do best, whatever that is!
To quote an article I read the other day, “[they]…want to lock down the internet and give us access to nothing more than a few walled gardens. They want to burn down the Library of Alexandria and replace it with a magazine rack.” [source]
As a website designer, this concerns me because the open net, as it stands under net neutrality, allows all of us to share our information. It gives the little guy the same chance as the big guy to gain ground. It is literally the “American Dream” scenario. Everyone has the opportunity to “make it big” by coming up with the next new idea. There are no appreciable barriers to entry onto the internet. With the repeal of net neutrality the internet will go the way of every new vehicle for communication that man has invented.
“History shows a typical progression of information technologies, from somebody’s hobby to somebody’s industry; from jury-rigged contraption to slick production marvel; from a freely accessible channel to one strictly controlled by a single corporation or cartel — from open to closed system.” — Tim Wu, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia Law School and a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times
Another thing to think about is, like everything else I am concerned this administration is doing, that the bottom line will be the use of the internet to control the “masses.” Isn’t this already happening…and hasn’t the internet been the means of organizing resistance? If we push the concept of non-neutrality to it’s outer reaches, that is exactly what could happen; the opposite of neutral is biased—which way do you think that bias will run? By the people and for the people, or by and for the corporations/government control? Take a guess.
A ray of light in all this is that, as the above sited article’s title says “The future of the open internet — and our way of life — is in your hands” It’s in our hands! One more thing to resist, one more thing for which we can make a difference. I know this is not the environment, women’s reproductive rights or LGBQT rights, but as someone who works in and around the internet, it’s also important to me. I truelove don’t want to lose another Library of Alexandria after all the work we have done to build it.
“This isn’t capitalism — it’s corporatism. Capitalism is messy. It’s wasteful. But it’s much healthier in the long run for society as a whole than central planning and government trying to pick the winners.
Capitalism allows for small businesses to enter and actually stand a chance. Corporatism makes it impossible.
If you’ve read this far, I hope you understand the gravity of this situation. This is not speculative. This is really happening. There are historical precedents. There are present-day examples.”
I encourage you to read the full article here, but below are actions we can take today (from the article):
- If you can afford to, donate to nonprofits who are fighting for the open internet: Free Press, the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Public Knowledge.
- Educate yourself about the importance of the open internet. Read Tim Wu’s “The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires.” It is by far the best book on this topic.
- Contact your representatives and ask them what they’re doing to defend Net Neutrality.
- Share this article with your friends and family. I realize the irony of asking you to use walled gardens to reach your friends and family, but this late in the war, these are the best tools possible. Share the article on Facebook or tweet this article.