What happened recently with the FCC ‘ruling’ of Ajit Pai is one of the single worst instances of the corruption of a government agency that I can recall. There are already a number of steps being taken by Congress to right this agrieveous wrong, as we speak. And – hopefully – they will successfully deal with it long before this next election.
But in the event that Congress instead does what it is so infamously good at doing (ie, caving in to the pressures of vested-interests plying them with money), I’ve decided to go ahead and make this a critical plank of my platform. Because it’s really, really important.
The Internet is not just a way to check your email, or keep up with your friends on Facebook. It is a fundamentally game-changing tool that revolutionizes the way we as humans have access to information. Information that spans literally the entirety of human existence (as far as we know it), the expanse of the universe we live in, the physical laws of reality, and of course the simple ‘how-to’ of literally any project we can conceive of.
My point is – we need to protect it. It is every bit as important to the progress of mankind as the Industrial Revolution. And for that reason, it needs to be absolutely protected.
What Ajit Pai and his FCC panel recently did was something that has been greatly feared for a long time – he made it so that companies that provided internet access were allowed to control who got what information and content, how much information and content they got, and how fast the got it. Their logic was simple but devious: make consumers have to pay extra for faster speeds and unlimited content. It made Pai’s old bosses at Verizon that much richer.
But this also opens up the doors for true censorship of information. Available content can now legally be selected by the companies that provide you with internet access, without your consent. The available speeds at which they can be accessed can now be controlled by the handful of companies that already have total control of internet access – if they don’t like the politicial leaning of what you’re trying to access, they now have the power to either shut you off entirely. Or make your download speeds soooo slow as to render those sites effectively unavailable. Ie, if they chose, you could spend literally days waiting for a website to load, and still not see it happen.
They did this to make money. Obscene amounts of money. Not only can these companies now charge you – the consumer – a ridiculous pricetag for full unfettered content to whatever you want access to, they can also force websites to have to PAY THEM to NOT restrict your access to those sites – if they even decide to allow you to pay them for it in the first place.
If this infuriates you – it should. It’s bald censorship.
I propose two steps to resolve this gross injustice, once and for all:
1.) Make it strictly illegal for any tele-communications company to restrict or deny access (subject to a fair charge for services, of course) to any legal resident or citizen for the full use of the Internet.
2.) Make it strictly illegal for any company to ‘mine’ for or otherwise collect personal data from their users, without explicit written consent from that user. Separate consent has to be then made in writing by that user before any company can do anything with that collected data. And at any time the user can notify the company in writing to revoke their consent. Additionally, a company cannot refuse service to any users for their refusal to allow personal data mining – with the sole exception being ISP providers, as some of that personal data is necessary to be able to provide said services.