Sunday, January 19, 2014

The FCC, Net Neutrality, and the TPP: An Opportunity to Demonstrate the Power of the Internet

This past week, the Federal Communications Commission lost a decision in Federal court regarding their regulations requiring network neutrality from the Internet Service Providers operating in the United States of America.

I agree that this is a very bad decision. I agree that this decision threatens to transform the Internet, as it is for end-users, into a series of walled gardens with mutual exclusivity between them. Furthermore, I agree that this decision overshadows the far greater threat that the Trans-Pacific Partnership poses to our online network. However, where I disagree with plenty of commentators is that the walled garden endgame is now inevitable and irreversible.

The usual array of petitioning Congress (specifically to stop the push to give Obama Fast Track authority; I support this for the same reason that I did when previous presidents wanted it- it puts too much power in the hands of the Executive and voids the Senate's duty to handle treaties, further impeding the citizenry's peaceful means of checking an overzealous government), organizing protest events, organizing lawsuits to stop the thing from happening, and more such peaceful resistance is already on offer and being deployed. I do not dismiss, out of hand, such measures as a waste of time.

What I want you, the reader, to comprehend is that these measures are quite likely to fail unless you know how to use them effectively. During my time in graduate school, I had the opportunity to take a seminar course where one of the two faculty teaching the course was an active political agent in my state government. Specifically, he was a speech-writer and public relations expert who worked on political campaigns and assessed public opinion on behalf of his employers. I took this course during the Autumn of 2012, so we closely monitored the final phase of the elections going on that season, with a strong emphasis on President Obama's re-election campaign.

None of these measures will work if you can't put more pressure on the elected officials than their financial backers can; you have to scare them, using the fear of failing to achieve re-election, and you have to be more terrifying than their own backroom backers because those moneybags have the leverage of backing a rival candidate to keep them in line. It's making them fear the mob (and getting lynched) more than they fear the bosses, nothing more, and that's assuming that your pushes aren't sabotaged by police infiltrators (as what happened to Occupy) or co-opted by rival oligarch factions.

If you are totally committed to peaceful measures, then I suggest that--as was the case with SOPA--you are far better off getting the corporations that rely on a free and open Internet to side with you on this matter. Reddit, Google, Yahoo, Apple, Activision, Valve, Sony Online Entertainment, Blizzard, Riot, and many more corporations (great and small alike) will get shafted in the transition to a walled garden/gated community model that cable television pioneered decades ago. While the bigger players, no doubt, have plans to make it work should that happen (and there are certainly factions within those bodies that want it to happen), there are still enough big players across the board with enough clout to torpedo any quisling movements if they know that they have all the public support required to kill it with fire. Therefore, in the course of mainstream political action, I recommend to those of you committed to being in that arena that you reach out to the corporate bodies that stand to lose big-time if Net Neutrality does actually die and have them cooperate with your movements to apply pressure to Congress and other relevant bodies to shoot this maneuver down.

For those of you reading from outside the United States, many of these same corporations operate where you live; the same option for private-public cooperative activism exists and I suggest that you consider it should you not want to go outside the lines. Pressure your national governments, and demonstrate outside any American embassy or consulate you can reach.

Yes, boycott any target you can clearly identify as a beneficiary to such a scheme.

Now, for those of you willing and able to go outside the lines, here's where I agree with you that your response is far more likely to be effective in both the short and the long run. What I want you folks to do is to play to the strength of the Internet: interpret this threat as damage and find out how to route around their bullshit, cut them out of the loop entirely, and bring the end-users effected back to the real--free--Internet as fast as you are able. The folks at Reddit's Darknetplan and related sub-reddits are already on the task, so it doesn't hurt to stop by and see what they're up to; chances are good that you'll find something useful to take up, and some way for you to contribute. The sooner that the speed of Internet technology is applied to outpace any threat to Net Neutrality, the better everyone all over the world will become as the impotency of this threat becomes manifest for all to see and laugh at.

That, readers, is the surest way out: to disregard the hoarsely-voiced proclaimers, to use their statute books as toilet paper, to tell them all to go fuck themselves while ensuring that we--your friends, your peers, your children, etc.--can go on enjoying the Internet as it was born to be- FREE AND INDEPENDENT. Find a way to kill the power of the ISP--to remove the kill-switch, and therefore kill the idea of a kill-switch--and you will save the Internet forever. If you do this, you discredit the authority and power of government as well as facist/corporatist private bodies who work with them; you will show that anarchism is viable now on a global level. Make Empire fall.

No comments:

Post a Comment