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My husband and I constantly debate Net Neutrality.  I am of the opinion that the internet is much larger than anyone anywhere thinks it is.  It is an emergent property of our society.  It is the nervous system of an evolving social organism.  I don't think the telcoms could control it if they tried.  

My husband, a counterpoint to my internet evangelism, feels that the internet is in mortal peril.  

He fears that the loss of free expression will be a death blow to our democracy.  Regulation by the telcoms may well be a slippery slope that leads to censorship.  Sites some find distasteful, or blatantly offensive, like, are an indicator species for our freedom of speech.

While my husband and I may not agree on the extent of danger to the internet, I do concede that it could be forced underground.  It could be hampered while we wait for broad adoption of new technologies that break the telcom's stranglehold.  In short, average consumers of information online will begin missing pieces of the puzzle without even knowing it.  

In the long term, I have ultimate faith in the power of the internet.  However, we can't afford a Dark Age, no matter how brief.  It may not impact us personally, as we will flow to whomever offers unfettered access.  But, others will be impacted... perhaps just in time for 2008.

Thus, I have signed Maria Cantwell's petition.

Originally posted to faedrake on Thu Jun 29, 2006 at 01:48 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The attempts to 'regulate' the internet remind me (3+ / 0-)

    of the attempts to "regulate" (by states and churches, both Catholic and Protestant) the printing of books from the early 16th century on. It didn't work in the long-run, but these authorities with their various vested interests and fears of the power of the printed word certainly gave it a try.
    I expect pretty much an attack on the freedom that currently characterizes the internet over the next few years, not least (paradoxically?) in countries that claim to be democracies and the bastions of freedom. In the long-run they'll lose, of course. In time for the 2008 elections? I wonder.

    we're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression

    by Lepanto on Thu Jun 29, 2006 at 02:02:39 PM PDT

  •  Death By Snow Fence (10+ / 0-)

    Think of how a snow fence works. It's a fairly open fence with slats about an inch wide spaced an inch or two apart.

    Technically, any snowflake or molecule of air is perfectly free to pass through. As billions do.

    But the turbulence created by the slats causes enough drag on the airflow that tons of snow will drop prematurely close behind the fence, protecting the road a short distance downwind. It works better than a solid barrier (or at minimum, better pound-for-pound). Measurements of racing swimmers showed years ago that they get more pull on the water by letting their fingers space out slightly in a similar pattern, rather than cupping tightly.

    In the information age, technology lets us take an analogous approach to security and thought control. We're not going to see wholesale Internet censorship any more than troops enforcing martial law. --Not because management doesn't want the control, but because it can apply the subtle snowfence kind of drag to accomplish its goals statistically.

    I don't see corporatist government permitting unlimited free-range Internet activity for long. It's already implemented surveillance and an increasing amount of chaperoning by agent participants, as it's doing in other media. Net non-neutrality to my thinking represents a snowfence type of degredation which may be enough, along with other circumstances, to contain its effectiveness against established power.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Jun 29, 2006 at 02:34:18 PM PDT

  •  I hope you are right... (0+ / 0-)

    but I fear that your husband is closer to the mark.  I also believe that the net can be controlled if we allow them to bulldoze us with legislation that allows it.

    The Internet is big, but there are certain "backbones" where virtually all net traffic must roam.  These could turn into chokepoints that end up facilitating control.

    My worry is two fold: 1) that sites like this one (or any others that the power elite doesn't like)  will be squeezed out of existence. And 2)  that with the telcos in charge, that they'll monitor ALL net traffic and cheerfully supply the government with EVERYTHING - every email, every site visited, every google search, and every private message - all neatly wrapped up in a bundle for Big Brother.  In this scenario, we not only lose the profoundly democratizing force of the Internet, but to add insult to injury, it gets turned into the dandiest little spy mechanism ever devised.

    I really really hope you are right, and your hubby and I are wrong.

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