So it comes to this huh? It comes to literally handing over the internet to the very people who have, for more than a decade, made their intentions clear that they wish to censor and ABUSE the internet for their own ends. Why should anyone even care that net neutrality is dead though, I mean the corporations have always looked out for the interests of the consumers and not the shareholders right?
Back in the 6th installment of Sanity Is Razor Thin I had a guest column written by Lloyd Kaufman of Troma Entertainment about the threat to net neutrality and why the internet MUST remain free and accessible to all. Alas it seems that the doomcrying that Lloyd and I have been doing for the last 2 years was all for naught as the Washington Supreme Court has killed the very idea of a free and neutral internet that everyone has the same access to all due to corporate interests having bought the court. Now, unless the US Supreme Court overturns this ruling (50/50 shot of that happening) it will mean that the major corporations who control your access to the internet itself (the ISP’s) will be able to “let the market determine” how much they charge, what they allow and most importantly WHO they allow. Under the old laws the Internet Service Provider HAD to treat every website the same, HAD to treat every customer the same and most of all could not discriminate against anyone when it comes to internet access. None of that matters any longer as now the ISP can (WILL) decide that their corporate owned websites will take priority and most of all their competitors websites will be just this side of useless. How will the market determine anything when the market is controlled by the people that want the keys to the entirety of the system? Right now, even as it stands they can control things but if this ruling stands you will have zero recourse to oppose them and don’t think that going to another corporate controlled ISP will solve the problem, look up the term oligarchy and then realize this is the exact situation that it applies to.
Time Warner owns CNN so lets use that as our starting example… okay, so lets say that Time Warner is your ISP* and since Time Warner can now, under the loss of net neutrality, decide how fast and at what quality you receive your connection they allow the CNN webpage to load right up, but they throttle down the Faux News and MSNBC websites to near dial-up speeds (keep in mind, this is now legal for them to do), well then after a while you will get frustrated and stop even trying to go to one of their competitors. This ruling allows the ISP (more to the point the corporate interests of the ISP’s owner) complete control over what you see… no, let me rephrase that, what they ALLOW you to see as they can now also decide that they don’t want various kinds of webpages out there… like say porno sites or political sites or even sites that allow you to speak freely against the corporate interests of the ISP. In other words, this ruling gives complete and TOTAL control of the internet over to those that have wanted for years to censor what you see and more importantly what you think. They will decide, in no uncertain terms, what you can and most importantly what you can NOT see on THEIR internet.
Why is this happening though? Why now? Why after all of these years with threats such as SOPA, CISPA and The Trans-Pacific Partnership either dead or effectively dead? Precisely BECAUSE of threats such as SOPA, CISPA and The Trans-Pacific Partnership are effectively dead. With a free and open internet that allows anyone to say anything and that allows for a free exchange of ideas we can reveal their secret evil plans to the world and stop them, but if the very people that control the gates to the information are the ones that we are attempting to form against, well then we lose before we have even begun… or so they think.
Lets say for the sake of argument that the worst case scenario happens and the higher court fails to overturn this (clearly illegal) ruling in the corporate favor, we are all DOA when it comes to the net right? The corporate wars have begun and we as the consumer have lost correct? Wrong. I am here to tell you people that if we lose the internet as we know it (and make no mistake, the net will be dead for all intents and purposes as it will morph into nothing more than corporate propaganda filtered through advertising dollars**) but two things will happen that THEY will be unable to stop… try as they might. One is that invariably a second, underground internet will spring up from all of this (kind of like TOR but with hopefully less child porn and murder solicitations). The infrastructure is already there to piggy back on what is established or even to build anew and make no mistake, this will happen whether it originates from The Pirate Bay or Anonymous, it will happen, I am kind of surprised it has not happened already honestly. The second thing that will happen is that paper will come back, remember kids before the internet became so ubiquitous and the crack that fuels all of our lives people communicated ideas by paper. Magazines, flyers, leaflets and the like were completely under your control and censorship was practically unheard of***. I very much see this kind of information passing coming back and in a way, I very much welcome it.
The corporations want to offer you some Kool Aid in an attempt to get you on board with this. Along with blind platitudes stretched to the breaking point they will tell you that the Kool Aid is refreshing and it will allow for a better internet that will push the boundaries of creativity and innovation all the while they are actively stifling those exact same things, as the Kool Aid drinker you will believe them, you will sign me off as a little chicken scared of the sky and eventually you will find that Jim Jones prepared the Kool Aid you so eagerly consumed without question.
*Keep in mind that in most markets due to US law only one major ISP can operate in a given area due to competition rules, lest we forget that it is already an oligarchy out there.
**Now that I think about it, that is kind of like now actually.
***Practically being the term to keep in mind, ask Larry Flynt about the attempts to censor him, but in the end, he won… remember that.