For those of us that have been following the recent attempts by governments and industry moguls to push through so-called privacy and anti-piracy legislation as embodied in the proposed controversial legislation – such as SOPA, PIPA, and ACTA, Tim Berners-Lee has joined the debate.
Tim’s core argument is that the motive behind this type of legislation is control – control of the Internet. In this Tim is spot on the mark.
The Internet potentially puts huge amounts of power into the hands of ordinary people. Power to access information that have previously only been available to an elite few. Power to communicate potentially with anyone in the world.
From the governments’ view point they can see how the internet has played a crucial roll in the recent Arab Spring resulting in the overthrow of several Arab regimes. They are afraid that the same could happen at home. If you think it couldn’t then think again.
Last years riots were “coordinated” largely using Blackberry Messenger. Coordination is actually a misnomer since the rioters were largely kids on the rampage. But just think what could have been achieved if large groups of people decided to get together and stage properly coordinated protests throughout the country.
Twelve years ago, the fuel protests brought the country to a few days away from paralysis. Email played a large part in coordination those protests. This could happen again because people now are becoming more disaffected as austerity cuts bite deeper. Governments know this and want control now.
As for the media moguls, a few powerful individuals have traditionally had control of their respective sectors for years – music, newspapers, book publishing, TV, movies. They’ve controlled the content, controlled whose work can and cannot be published. They have become extremely wealthy in the process. As also have a few of the lucky artists whose work has been published.
But the internet now threatens those people – the media moguls and well knows artists. Many lesser known artists, many of whom are just as good as the elite few, can now self publish and bypass these gatekeepers. The media moguls kick back under the guise of “copyright infringement”, “illegal downloads” etc. They’re desperately trying to hang onto control.
So this is the situation we have at the moment. An unholy alliance between governments that want to gain control of the internet and media moguls who want to hang onto the control that they have traditionally had over their industries.
It is up to all of us to resist unless we’re happy for the government to pry more and more into our private lives. Or we’re happy to see the likes of Simon Cowell or Rupert Murdoch become even richer.