We read articles about the governments of other nations — China comes to mind — restricting their citizens from easy and open access to the internet, and cluck about how much better we have it here. Yet our access to the ‘net may be threatened as well, not by the government but by the corporations that own the “pipes.”
According to The Nation, the telephone and cable giants are discussing (in house) ways for them to corral most of the bandwidth on the internet, leaving little guys like me and you to make do with what’s left. In addition, according to the article, the corporate bigwigs are also planning a megadatabase of internet traffic, vestiges of which already exist.
To succeed in this nefarious plot to co-opt one of the last remaining avenues of free and open expression, the telecom companies will have to convince Congress to adjust existing telecom laws in their favor. Watchdog groups have already begun to muster opposition, and small-time operators like your local internet service providers will likely join in the fray.
I would encourage anyone reading this post to read the Nation article, then to contact your own congressmen and women to urge them to resist a corporate stranglehold on the internet.
The following books are worth reading for further information:
Courting the Abyss: Free Speech and the Liberal Tradition