save the Internet?

The big “moveon.org” buzzword these days has been “save the Internet,” using stark language:

Congress is now pushing a law that would end the free and open Internet as we know it. Internet providers like AT&T and Verizon are lobbying Congress hard to gut Network Neutrality, the Internet’s First Amendment and the key to Internet freedom. Net Neutrality prevents AT&T from choosing which websites open most easily for you based on which site pays AT&T more. So Amazon doesn’t have to outbid Barnes & Noble for the right to work more properly on your computer.

I have mixed emotions when I say that my readers should not be surprised by this. This is the “virtual commons” being enclosed, something I wrote about in 2003 in an article that has been circulating online:

Yet the free exchange of ideas as mediated by computers and the Internet is in danger. Every revolution has a counter-revolution, and the counter-revolution upon the free exchange of ideas is well underway. The Information Counter-Revolution is an attempt by corporate interests to assert control over the Internet, with the end goal of recasting it in terms of pre-Information Revolution media outlets, which treat information infrastructure as “content delivery systems” controlling what passive viewers may see. The counter-revolution seeks to accomplish these ends through two primary means: expansion of “intellectual property” laws and a re-architecting of the Internet to unilaterally enforce these laws through an infrastructure of centralized control; these are the virtual enclosures.

So, normally I’m not one to say “I told you so,” but…. let’s just say I’m pretty far from surprised at this. I predicted this several years ago. Not trying to toot my own horn, but this issue is very important and is still not getting the media attention it deserves.

It cannot be stressed enough that one key element of this struggle is that the Internet, as a commons, is an invaluable tool to those who resist the neoliberal world order, the process of corporatization and globalization, not to mention peace activists. It is in danger of being taken away from us.

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