Pure Geekery is usually a pretty light hearted place. But I’m about to get serious. “I might actually proof read this post” serious. At game night this past weekend I was ranting about how when I post on Facebook about various internet
legislation, it gets almost no attention. Even from my “political” friends. Through this rant/conversation I realized that the reason these issues don’t get attention, is because they can’t be broken down into a simple meme.
I’ve posed about CISPA, ITU, and SOPA all before. I link you to another page where people way more educated than I make the issues easy to understand. This has not worked. These are my least popular posts. Today, I’m taking a different approach. I’m approaching it like I would any other post I write. Writing about why these issues are important to me, with the hope they’ll become important to you.
The issue: Privacy
I’m not talking about the privacy settings on your Facebook. I’m talking a more fundamental right to privacy. Right now, CISPA is making it through the House of Representatives. It’s the latest in a long line of legislation that tries to give the government sweeping access to data in the name of “safety.” The bill allows companies and the government to monitor traffic closer and share information without due process.
Why do I care? Because I don’t think the rules change just because we’re on the internet. I don’t think that the government should be able to snoop around my data without my permission, just like they can’t snoop around my car or my home.
The issue: Revocation of Access
Sometimes though, companies don’t wait for laws. SOPA was widely protested last year and was not passed(the one time we all cared, my heart grew two sizes that day). So big companies like Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T got together and formed the “Center for Copyright Information.” Basically, your ISP will watch the data you’re transmitting to find out if you’re violating any type of copyright. Get caught six times and your internet is slowed to a crawl unless you pay a small fine. There is no legal process here.
Why do I care? Because I don’t like companies having this kind of authority. Let’s face it, the internet is not just a place we go for leisure It’s necessary for life in the US. You pay bills, apply for jobs, and possibly even work online. I’m reading Pirate Cinema right now, and it deals with this type of scenario. Go give it a read.
The issue: Net Neutrality
Net Neutrality is the idea that bits are bits and one shouldn’t be prioritized over the other. Data that comes from a major source like NBC or FOX shouldn’t be prioritized over data from your friendly little geek blog. Now, the big guys can buy bigger and better servers that make their sites load faster. But they can’t ask the ISP to send their sites to your connection in front of other sites. This has gotten muddied lately as content providers become content creators. When Comcast bought NBC there was an outrage in the internet world. The guys who provided the access to the content now owned a bunch of content. This can cause problems because they obviously want you to view their properties so they can make more money. It’s an inherent conflict of interest, but it was allowed.
Why do I care? Because it’s the fundamental way the web works. Change this, and free access to information will forever be altered. And not for the better.
So how can you keep up with all of these issues? Personally, I like to visit the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s site weekly and just see what’s going on. Save The Internet from Free Press is also a good resource. These aren’t issues that drive ratings, so you typically won’t see them mentioned in mainstream news, so you have to go looking for it. Please do.