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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 3/30/19

Big Government and Big Tech versus the Internet and Everyone

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The Internet is Down Again
The Internet is Down Again
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Governments around the world began trying to bring the Internet under control as soon as they realized the danger to their power represented by unfettered public access to, and exchange of, information. From attempts to suppress strong encryption technology to the Communications Decency Act in the US and China's "Great Firewall," such efforts have generally proven ineffectual. But things are changing, and not for the better.

The European Parliament recently passed a "Copyright Directive" which, if implemented, will force Internet platforms to actively monitor user content instead of putting the burden of proving copyright infringement on those claiming such infringement. The Directive also includes a "link tax" under which publishers will charge aggregation platforms for traditionally "fair use" excerpts.

The US government's Committee on Foreign Investment is attempting to force the sale of Grindr, a gay dating app, over "national security" concerns. Grindr is owned by a Chinese company, Beijing Kunlun. CFIUS's supposed fear is that the Chinese government will use information the app gathers to surveil or even blackmail users in sensitive political and military jobs.

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Those are just two current examples of many.

Big Governments and Big Tech are engaged in a long-term mating dance.

Big Governments want to regulate Big Tech because that's what governments do, and because, as with Willie Sutton and banks, Big Tech is where the Big Tax Money is.

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Big Tech wants to be regulated by Big Governments because regulation makes it more difficult and expensive for new competitors to enter the market. Facebook doesn't want someone else to make it the next MySpace. Google doesn't want a fresh new face to send it the way of Yahoo.

It's a mating dance with multiple suitors on all sides.

The US doesn't like Grindr or Huawei, because FREEDUMB.

The Chinese don't want uncensored Google or Twitter, because ORDER.

The EU is at least honest about being sexually indiscriminate: It freely admits that it just wants to rigorously screw everyone, everything, everywhere.

Big Tech wants to operate in all of these markets and it's willing to buy every potential Big Government as many drinks as it takes to them all into the sack.

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Everybody wins, I guess. Except the public.

Governments and would-be monopolists are fragmenting what once advertised itself as a Global Information Superhighway into hundreds of gated streets.

Those streets are lined by neatly manicured lawns per the homeowners' association's rigorously enforced rules, and herbicide is sprayed on those lawns to kill off the values that made the Internet the social successor to the printing press and the economic successor to the Industrial Revolution.

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Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


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Chuck Nafziger

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Seems to me that the internet has always been intended for surveillance and propaganda. I really doubt it would have ever been allowed if it started to bring truth to the average "user."

Submitted on Saturday, Mar 30, 2019 at 4:42:51 PM

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"Seems to me that the internet has always been intended for surveillance and propaganda."

Don't let the current condition of things fool you. The Internet was NOT invented as a tool for control of the population.

According to Tim Berners-Lee (the inventor of the World Wide Web), the world needed a global source of free-flowing information, for EVERYONE, and that was the intent behind his "creation".

What we're seeing today is just a desperate attempt by corporate interests to monopolize and capitalize on the venue. Yes, this includes controlling the voices and narratives contained in it.

As you know, the Corporates have built a world where profits are everything, and nothing is considered sacred where profits can be made. And, as you also know, they already own your government as well, as that accelerates their mission, of course.

Much of this world they've built revolves around legacy ideas, such as copyright and other forms of IP, used to monopolize the sources of revenue. The relatively newer concept of exploiting personal data was eagerly adopted as another way to make money. The resulting power and control that came with this was actually an unexpected "bonus", and they immediately moved to have every new software and network service feed into their data mines.

At first, the sharing of your information was painted as a very "minor" concern, as they made it look like they were getting your permission to do it. (No, they didn't need that permission, as they were doing it anyway.)

Later on, as every major player came on board with the idea, trackers were attached to everything we did online, in the background, and all that was collected by Facebook, Google, and a few others, and shared with everyone else who "partnered" or "subscribed" to this massive public disservice.

You know the rest. Microsoft and Apple contributed to the scene by making new operating systems (and hardware) more "cooperative" with the big plan to have everybody "catalogued" by spying on them and monitoring what they're doing.

More "contributors" followed. Adobe, Yahoo!, Sony... you name it, any large company that had its foot in the internet door wanted in. I'm sure the NSA, CIA, and other "intelligence" agencies were actively involved in the entire process.

What all these corporate interests and spooks didn't count on was the shifts this technology would eventually make - toward decentralized control and encrypted from their view. This shift will kill the whole data mining regime and starve all all the behemoths who rely on it for revenue. It will also kill the spying.

This is possible right now, but it's going to take a while before enough people catch up to what's going on, and start moving to a different way of connecting to the Internet.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 10:27:37 PM

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They can't "kill" the Internet.

They can "break" parts of it, so to speak, but the Internet always builds around obstacles. That's because they're not in control of what actually makes the Internet - all the independently owned and operated computers. Every time one avenue is shut down, multiple new avenues open up.

The only way the Internet could be considered to be "controlled" would be if everyone were to only reside in the "Facebook/Google/Twitter" bubble. People are already seeing this, and are leaving those services.

Encryption is here. Decentralized platforms are also here, and new social networks are rising up. Like Facebook when it first started, these alternative social sites are a work in progress, but will soon achieve more effectiveness than Facebook. Your work is not vulnerable, your activities and conversations cannot be monitored or tracked. Your personal data is not part of the business model.

It's the very nature of the Internet - someone tries to put up a barrier, the Internet builds around it. Censor people on Facebook, they move to Minds.com or Steemit.com, or any other more respectable service.

And, if providers want to jump on the censorship "ban-wagon", they'll only be replaced by decentralized networking. (Another work in progress that will soon emerge.)

You have to keep in mind that the very strength of the large centralized players we have today will also serve as their weakness. Without the ability to collect and sell your life's metadata, they will lose their very significance and fade away just as easily as they came in. And, when everyone wakes up to the wave of decentralization, you won't have to worry about all the spying and censorship. A whole wing of the NSA will become irrelevant.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 8:23:32 PM

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