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The Splintering of the Internet

By Roy D. Follendore III

Copyright (c) 2005 by RDFollendoreIII

November 15, 2005

I have been predicting for over a decade that the Internet would begin to splinter. Social forces are stronger than open and unrestricted communication. There are always forces that either through ideology or religious justifications want to control communications. We have seen this in communist countries like China. We have been seeing it in Islamic countries and we have been seeing it within the United States. It is no wonder that the European countries are demanding control of the Internet.

There is no doubt that United States of America will lose control over the Internet. The question is not 'if' but when. The truth is that we do not deserve absolute control and the reality is that no single country does. America has no inalienable right to decide the future of the Internet and we have not really done a very good job in managing it.  Theft and fraud are rampant and we have really done nothing to properly regulate the policing of it. The fact is that most of the internet is made up of noise.  Our court system rejected the rights of independent internet journalists to speak the truth under the protection of freedom of the press. The Federal Government has been given cart blanch to wiretap and monitor everything communicated directly from ISP routers without warrants. Our State Department even supports other countries rights to censor discussions about things like freedom, human rights and democracy. And if this were not enough, the Internet gap between the rich and the poor, the ignorant who receive noise and the privileged who receive knowledge is getting wider.  What else should the United State expect?

The realization is here that if individual countries are to manage their own destiny then they are going to have to manage their communications. Just because countries may be wired together does not mean that they speak the same language. Just because societies speak the same language does not mean that we understand each other. In the last analysis the progress of the Internet is not about the quantity of throughput but about the quality of content. We Americans have not been qualified to look out for the interests of the rest of the world in which we live.  Just like the new nuclear first strike policies, with respect to the Internet we seem to have shrunk into our independent shell of unilateral thinking. By trying to control everything we are able to control nothing.

Even though it may have been inevitable, what a colossal waste of opportunity the loss of control over the Internet will be for our nation. There is so much more that we could have done. I suppose that it will just be another major part of our international infrastructure that has been lost by the Bush administration. Oh well, as we all know, there is one thing to be said about opportunity... if you don't use it, we lose it.






Copyright (c) 2001-2007 RDFollendoreIII All Rights Reserved