We’ve all heard—this information is still allowed to be transmitted—that the government will soon take over the Internet under the couldn’t-they-come-up-with-something-not-so-Orwellian-sounding Net Neutrality scheme. By “neutrality” they mean a kind of enforced-by-arms demilitarized zone. No competition by carriers will be allowed that isn’t government designed, monitored, and approved.
That’s only the surface. Buried within NN will be new powers allowing the government to regulate content. That means sites like with “controversial” content could be in some deep kimchee.
First, it is a simple prediction that prices will rise and access and speed diminish. Not for everybody, of course. Just for those who do not make a government favorites list, which is most of us. A few select groups will discover that Internet access is a fundamental “right” and these folks will get free, but limited, service (and probably computers, too). News reports will highlight these winners.
The naifs at Google and other top providers actually gave money to Congresspeoples and the like so that these regulations would be instituted. The government is ever obliging to those with fat wallets. See, Google didn’t want its content regulated by carriers. So Google got the government to promise carriers they’d have to accept whatever content the government approved.
Google no doubt smiled, thinking their old-fashioned crony capitalistic trick worked. But you know how smart people can be really dumb? Here’s another case. Because Google also opened the door—which many in government were already pushing at—to the government regulating all content. Including content delivered by Google.
Say, remember how quickly Google caved to China when that government said “You may not do this”? And how quickly Google caved in Europe when those governments said “You may not do this”? And how… Sure you do. Prediction two: The same thing will happen here.
Enter Uncle Fred, who explains better the same thoughts had by Yours Truly:
First, “hate speech” will be banned. The government will tell us whom we can hate and whom we cannot. “Hatred” will be vaguely defined so that one will never be sure when one is engaging in it and, since it will be prosecutable, one will have to be very careful. Disapproval of favored groups, or of their behavior, will be defined as hatred. National security will be invoked, silencing whistle-blowers or, eventually, anything that might make the public uneasy with Washington’s wars.
The next step probably will be to block links to foreign sites deemed to transgress…
Prediction three: a major content provider, like Google (they own blogspot, blogger) will either be sued or will see harassment by “activists” because the activists revile a blog or blogs and want them killed. Maybe Ed Feser one day describes how acting on same-sex attraction violates natural law. This will be called “hate speech.” A “victim” or “victims” will be trotted out. The litigants/activists will invoke Net Neutrality, whether or not it is relevant. The “press” will jump at yet another chance to change the world.
And Google will cave. Out the door goes Feser. And every other site that is “hate filled”, too. For, you see, Google will write a new policy to protect itself from harassment from government and busybodies. Other major content providers will follow suit. Bloggers and news site writers won’t be all kicked off immediately, only when “discovered” by the perpetually “outraged.” Kind of like how copyrighted videos on YouTube disappear only after they’re found by lawyers.
Prediction four: a major carrier, like Comcast, will either be sued or will see harassment by “activists” because they, Comcast, streamed content from some site deemed politically unacceptable. How dare they “facilitate hate”, etc. Again, Net Neutrality will be invoked. The government, as above, may never be actively involved. Comcast will block the site, re-write its policies, which others will emulate.
Self-censorship will take care of most problems, leaving the government to clear up the most “egregious” cases. The cry of “Free speech!” will be heard, of course, and so that brings up Prediction five. The government won’t outright forbid most content. Instead, it will cause sites to have a “rating” which can be used to filter. That means carriers and web hosts will have to implement software rules to handle the filters. Browsers for major software platforms—think Brendan Eich?—will quickly add code that works with the ratings. All major corporations will restrict hate-rated sites.
The same sorts of restrictions for websites will happen to other venues like Twitter. Look for ratings and more from-the-hip account cancellations.
Timing? Good question. These things always happen faster than you think. I say within five years. You?
Update It’s important you see the comments between myself and others below. They explain better than anything why my predictions hold force.