Saving the Internet, Ourselves, and the Future

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Since its birth as the U.S. Department of Defense ARPANET research project, the Internet has faced various threats — some technical, some in the policy realm, and some purely political.

Recently we’ve seen the SOPA and PIPA legislation. Make no mistake about it — the Hollywood content giants have not given up on their desires to reshape the Internet in their own traditional images.

We now face CISPA and its cyber-scaremongering, with cyberwar profiteering threatening to undermine decades of privacy protection legislation.

Everything in the vast repertoire of mankind is finding its way onto the Net in various guises, from wonders sublime and beautiful, to horrors of the most crass and demeaning.

There are marvels of generosity, cooperation and good will to be found all over the Net.

But there is also blatant exploitation by those who see the Internet and its technologies merely as a “gold rush” to be exploited, the best interests of the community at large be damned — organizations explicitly entrusted with the well-being of the Net sometimes joining the dark side in the enablement of obscene profits.

Our overall unwillingness — especially as technologists — to “play the game” the way the “big boys” play has allowed entities with less than admirable motives to gain sway over many aspects of the Net.

In the U.S., net neutrality and service quality have languished as a few dominant ISPs have reached their pinnacles through exploitation of original monopoly grants, cherry picking deployments of broadband, and outright lying to communities — not to mention outright political chicanery to help kill off effective competition.

We have allowed relatively minor issues such as arguments about Web cookies to become political pawns, diverting us while governments plan and deploy vast schemes to control and censor the Internet, turning the Net from a tool that could greatly enhance individual rights, into a mechanism to muzzle and control. Here to read more.

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