2012: The Year the Internet Ends?

Thanks to a Facebook friend, I found this story on the supposed planned “end of the internet,” as it were, at which time only commercial websites within subscription packages will be accessible. Sounds to me like a good way to control the dissemination of information. It made me think of the inestimable Noam Chomsky, who, even if he is a socialist, is also an anarchist, and that makes him cool in my book. He once said this:

The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”

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5 Responses

  1. Well, I’d get a lot more reading in…

    In any event, while this might be technologically possible, it would be very difficult to implement with the way that existing hardware and software operates, and I don’t see it happening. And I say this not because I am convinced that the state is in favor of maintaining free and open discourse, but merely because such constraints being placed on the ‘net would subvert the business models of many or most of the corporations which have a presence there. (As well as the technology issues that I alluded to above.)

    The example that the author cites, by the way, is totally disingenuous. Mobile devices are frequently restricted to certain web sites, not for censorship purposes, but to conserve bandwidth. I’d need to see some better evidence in order to believe that this is where we’ll be ending up in four years.

  2. Paul,

    I was discussing this issue with a lawyer friend yesterday, who said that this exact article is not the best on a number of points: no citation of sources, etc. I agree with you about businesses, etc. But we’ll see what happens. I’ve read rumors in other places of a “cyber-911″ happening and that being the excuse for a draconian increase in internet regulation, which would surely silence curmudgeons like me!

  3. If the lines, backbones, etc., are privately-owned, then why shouldn’t the private owners be able to restrict access to them? It’s one thing if the gov’t is forcing Internet companies to restrict (for example, because the gov’t “needs” bandwidth for “national security purposes”) – it’s quite another if they restrict on their own in hopes of making more profit.

  4. dcs,

    Certainly, strictly speaking, internet service providers would have the right to do that, but it wouldn’t make sense from a business perspective. Who in their right mind would offer fewer services than in the past? If such a situation were to arise, I would be immediately suspicious of government-corporative cooperation–an ugly thing to be sure.

    There more I think about this whole thing, though, the less plausible it seems. Too many businesses operate from their websites, etc, for commercialization to be a viable option.

  5. I’ve continued to think about the issue from a technical standpoint. And the more I think, the less likely it seems. I live more on the application side and less on the network side, but I have a basic understanding of transmission protocols, and they’re just not set up to work the way the cable television does. True, you could just have the government shut down the ‘net as it exists, with the backbone companies pressured into complying, and then rebuild it from scratch to be able to work like cable, but this would cause such disruption that it would make the sum total of changes to travel restrictions, etc., that came out of 9/11 look utterly insignificant.

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