Followup - Freedom and Net Neutrality

2012-08-18

This post is a follow-up to my post of February 2011 in which I talk of the potential issues of Net Neutrality sparked off by the Egyptian regime of the time cutting off the Internet in an attempt to control its populace.

The Pirate Bay

Several ISPs have recently been forced by the British Courts to use technology, that they own for controlling child pornography passing over their networks, to prevent users of said ISPs from accessing The Pirate Bay bit-torrent indexing site. This is a victory for the RIAA and BPI et al in the fight against piracy. However, the implication is that ISPs can be forced to block access to arbitrary websites and they have proven the technology is implemented which is able to do so.

Net Neutrality

The gloves are off now, and the ISPs are potentially going to take this as a signal that they can arbitrarily block random web assets which they unilaterally decide are inappropriate. Alternatively the governments of the world may see the potential to legislate more blocks in law using weasel-words in the legalese to create broad strokes which allow blocking completely unrelated and otherwise legal web properties for no reason other than somebody somewhere finds it distasteful.

Editorial Discretion

Another issue raised recently was that of Verizon’s petition to the US Government that requests the company be allowed what it termed as “Editorial Discretion”. The premise is that an ISP should have the same control of what a user sees on-line as a newspaper has over what a reader sees in the paper. This needs to be squashed as quickly as possible by the public at large, but I fear that most will be apathetic and ignore the issue. The same wouldn’t be true if the telecoms companies started arbitrarily censuring our phone-calls to one-another based on what we say during the call. And that is what this all amounts to; unilaterally deciding what somebody may or may not do, read or view on-line is tantamount to censorship. We don’t trust our Governments to censure our media on behalf of the “public good” so why should we trust corporations to do the same but for their own profit and that of their shareholders instead of the public good?!