Monday, April 24, 2006

The Great Firewall Of China

The peasantry of Left Blogovia is in open revolt over the issue of "net neutrality" as Congress is considering lifting restrictions on Internet service providers against content discrimination. Read more about the issue at SaveTheInternet.Com. Readers of this blog may be interested to know what I think about this effort, particularly since it has the endorsement of one of my personal heroes, Vint Cerf.

I think— to put it simply— that Congress would be making a terrible mistake giving such network power to the big telecom companies, and I fully expect them to do it with nothing more than a whimper from the voting public. The resulting deterioration in the quality of American intellectual life will take centuries to undo, and I do not exaggerate.

It couldn't happen to a more deserving nation of losers and fools on the planet.

Nevertheless, it's not like the overregulation of big telecom networks isn't a huge problem worldwide. Some governments are better than others. Some are really bad, c.f. China. If I wanted to live in Shanghai, I'd move there. On the other hand, the climate in the EU Zone is generally better. Sad to see the U.S. becoming more like China.

If the Congress does this, I wouldn't hold out much hope for the idea that the Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it. This aphorism was never really about censorship in the core of the network. It was always about censorship at the edges. As the example of the Great Firewall of China shows, when the Internet itself is built to be a censorship engine, it can do things that even broadcast media is unable to do, e.g. effective astroturfing.

America is getting ready to unravel itself completely. Cyberprogressives need to refamiliarize themselves with the NNTP protocol immediamente. We desperately need a revision of RFC 977. Yesterday.

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