Didi’s Blog

December 19th, 2007

Overview

Posted by dxie in Control of the Internet

As the Internet becomes more and more integrated in each of our lives and more expansive around the world, the question of who, if anyone, controls the Internet, and the future of the Internet as we know it becomes more and more important. With the ability to reach billions of people around the world quickly and easily, the Internet is a news source unparalleled by anything ever known before. People today do their shopping online, download music, make phone calls, write emails, and in short, live through the Internet. Indeed, any individual or organization with too much control over such a powerful tool poses a threat to the freedoms of many people.

There are incentives for many different organizations to seek control over the Internet. Among these include businesses, governments, and individuals. Each of these entities use their own methods of seeking control. Lawrence Lessig mentions four “constraints” in his writings which regulate the Internet. Namely these are the law, the market, social norms, and the architecture of the Internet. In a way, this is very relevant to our discussion. For example, the government would utilize the law as its main way of gaining control, whereas businesses would use the market. Communities hold power due to social norms, and a few individuals may exploit the architecture of the Internet for their purposes.

Businesses have incentives to control the Internet in order to expose their products to a large population of people for extended periods. Among these businesses, perhaps telephone and cable companies can most easily influence Internet access, as they are the ones who provide Internet access in the first place. Telephone and cable companies have the power to block certain websites and, with the power to effectively censor the Internet, comes the power to choose what people view and think. Many people rely on the Internet as their primary source of information, and there is a certain danger to this when that source is biased. This type of control can be very subtle, and many users would not be able to detect the difference if companies are careful.

Governments also have their reasons for wanting control. As the Internet expands to more and more countries around the world, certain governments may not want their citizens exposed to all the information the Internet has to offer. Especially in more restricted countries, where the government limits communications and restricts certain forms of speech, the Internet may pose a threat to their ability to control their citizens in these ways. In some cases, the Internet may allow citizens ways to challenge the rule of the government which were never before possible. Even in the United States, not all states may want unfiltered Internet access for their citizens. For example, more conservative states may not appreciate porn being readily available to its citizens. In these cases, state governments may want the ability to filter the Internet. This brings us to the question of whether or not this is necessarily a bad idea. Used in the right way, filters can be very effective and beneficial to people using the Internet. Perhaps, then, open access to the Internet for every single person isn’t the most ideal plan.

Control of the Internet is thus an important topic to consider when thinking about the future of the Internet. In order for control to be given to the right people, if any person at all, we must realize who has control now. With the right knowledge, the Internet will continue to expand and provide benefits to individuals around the world. The Internet can serve as an unbiased form of communication, where each individual is truly equal and where all sides of a debate are given a say.

One Response to ' Overview '

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  1. Mark23 said,

    on June 2nd, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Internet has became the basic need for a common man for day to day life routines. There are many people doing online work on the internet like shopping, banking ,etc. But there are some peoples who are using the internet for wrong means and thus control over the internet is necessary.

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