David Weinberger issued an Independence Day manifesto that every internet user should read.
His call to arms spotlights the massive problem growing in the US where the big telecom companies act as toll keepers for access to the internet while also selling content over the same connection.
The best solution, he says, is one taken thirty years ago with the telephone monopoly.
The problem is the same and so is the solution. We should do to the carriers of Internet signals what we did to the carriers of telephone signals. Bust ’em up so that the companies that connect us to the Internet don’t also sell us services over the Internet. Providing connection and providing content and services can and should be profitable businesses. They just shouldn’t be the same business…just as you wouldn’t want your local school owned by The Acme Textbook Company, or your safety inspectors supplied by The Acme Burglar Alarm Company. It’s just too hard to resist your own brand.
No, we have to bust up the carrier cartel. Structural separation. Divestiture. It’s the only way to get the Internet that our economy, culture and democracy need.
Those howls you hear belong to the corporations and their pet Congress critters (do they really spend $1.4 million per week lobbying law makers?) who will predict all kinds of dire consequences if big telecom is restricted in any way.
However, David points out the many ways an open and unencumbered net (pretty much the antithesis of what the carriers want) benefits us all.
Our economy prospers when the Internet is equally open to every good idea.
Our democracy flourishes when all ideas can get an equal hearing.
Our culture is enriched when anyone can create a song, a movie, a book, or manifesto.
He notes that just having net neutrality agreements from the big telecoms won’t work. History has shown that they will promise anything and then do everything possible to violate those promise.
And thus David arrives at his proposal to assure all of this.
Delaminate the bastards. The only way to get Net Neutrality with teeth is by changing the business models of the businesses providing us with access. Peel apart the layers like a piece of rotting plywood.
Although I’m not optimistic about net neutrality being written into law, much less the drastic measures David proposes, his essay is well worth taking the time to read.
It would be nice if our national “leaders” would.