Law in the Internet Society
TiphaineLeverrier - 18 Oct 2012

Why is more regulation of the internet -- no good?

The key concept behind the Internet is supposedly it being (and staying) a 'neutral zone'. Is it really? Wars are raging for its control, and they become fiercer every minute.

This could only be true if the Net were a "zone," but as I have tried to make clear throughout the term, the Net is neither a place nor a thing, but rather a condition of social interconnection. How such a condition could be "neutral," not part of the social processes in which it is embedded, is rather difficult to see. Probably, therefore, the problem here is a false point of departure.

While a few decades ago, one was a visionary foreseeing people equipped with personal computers, nowadays, roughly a third of the world population uses internet. The sector has not just grown in terms of reach, but also in qualitative and quantitative terms. The amount of data available out there is just ridiculous.

What does this last sentence mean, or do? How does calling available information "ridiculous" help the reader to understand something?

In light of this, which shark wouldn't smell the blood? The internet has been growing fast, generating a great deal of services, creating empires, defeating others, becoming the center of attention of a globalized capitalist economy. And the future is bright for whoever gets a piece of the cake, as the sector flourishes when all others think recession and damage control. No wonder why, for the last two decades, the sector has been the stage of power struggles and cat fights.

Another collection of rhetoric depending for any of its intended analytical force on the idea that the Net is a thing, or a "sector." It's not, so this doesn't work very well.

Surprisingly, I find few people try to know or care about what's going on, whereas the last few years developments alarmingly show the balance is shifting quickly in favor of the 'big players', and away from neutrality. The big loser? Each individual user. Simply disconnected from a world he however enters and help shaping (without realizing it), the user-consumer(-pigeon) is once again going to be robbed (from money, from rights, and from having a say). Worse, a lot of those 'who know' prefer to look away, or support regulation as a solution. What? The closing of Megavideo was wrong? What? The melting of IP rights is not a bad thing? And whaaaatttt ???!!!! The efforts to regulating the internet are wrong? When I expose such views, a wave of disapproval and upset comments usually overwhelm me, and my jurist mother is not the last to question my sanity.

This passage is confusing, whereas it was supposed to reduce confusion.

My brain works just well, thanks.

If you need to reassure the reader on this point in the middle of an essay, you have probably failed.

And yes, as a lawyer-to-be, I can see that more regulation usually means more job opportunities for my 'cast'.

That would be "caste." But it wouldn't.

My main problem is that regulation is mostly a tool for the 'big players' to enslave internet, channel its expansion and fragment it as to suck out every potential penny, and if possible make it more addictive (I was recently reading an article on scientific findings that social network addiction is beating sex and alcohol among the 12-25).

Something to evanescent to cite is plainly too evanescent to rely upon. And indeed, the whole "addiction" model is specious, meretricious, and absurd.

Sure, regulation is a necessity to ensure the users security, to guarantee their rights, to prevent some 'malignant' developments of the internet, to limit abuses... Sure, privacy rights, freedom of expression, copyrights etc are violated everyday . But start to think : who tells you regulation is a necessity, exactly? Who benefits from the violations? Who creates the need for regulation? Well. Governments, Internet Giants, Telecoms firms, web-related service providers... So, there's probably a bit of brain washing going on there.

"Regulation" is being treated here as a homogeneous substance. How can one possibly discuss "regulation" rather than regulations? How can generality here not lead to more rather than less confusion?

Why am I raising these issues, which are nothing new, and of which, in the end, I know myself too little to make a point? Well, precisely because I know so little, and I don't find it so easy to access information about the internet reforms and evolutions. As a user, I'm mostly faced with done deeds, and the lack of transparency benefits the 'big players'.

But whether you know too little is under your control. Wouldn't it make more sense to learn enough about something to write about it usefully, than to write about subjects too large to specify about which you haven't learned enough to say something you haven't heard before?

My awareness was raised lately as some of the battles for control (and power), which were mostly underground, have surfaced recently, exposing the reality of the interests in play. First, there was the 'witch hunt' against downloading platforms and devices, and the controversies about streaming legality. In few years, Emule, Youtube, Dailymotion, SurfTheChannel? et al. have been raided, closed or fined for illegally providing copyright protected data. The edge for me were the closing of Megaupload/Megavideo and, as a French, the establishment of the Hadopi law as a punitive tool for illegal downloading. State + traditional industry of culture and media V internet content and pipes providers. Governments reaffirmed their power to enforce and order, the traditional industry its control over governments and legislation.

A confusing passage mixing up several different subjects.

Second, there is this international outcry for a 'democratic governance' of the internet. States against States. Each wants to have a say in the regulation, and the US / ITU quasi-monopoly is now contested by Brazil, India, Russia and China among others.

No. Accuracy matters.

Thirdly, there are these several occurrences in which internet users privacy rights were invoked. Facebook and Google among others have been severely attacked, but also unsafe systems which breach made customers debit cards, social security, or phone numbers public. There, sticks and stones may break my bones... Google has just been notified by the French commission for IT and related liberties (the Cnil) it would have to clarify its privacy policy. Negotiations are on, but Google has shown no intention to comply with the authority's demands.

Not right either.

Fourthly, there is this long going Telecoms V Content providers struggle, to which I didn't pay much attention, until I read last week an article that about the updating of an 1988 treaty regulating telecoms. The conference will take place in Dubaļ, and will apparently be decisive regarding the sharing of the internet between the actors, but also the provision of services to the end customer. Telecoms expect to get a bigger piece of the cake.


Where does that lead us?

To the conclusion that it would be better to understand one small thing thoroughly than to understand the big things in a hazy or partially inaccurate fashion.

One could say the fact the actors react one against the other in the open creates more transparency and somehow check and balances. But what if it is more that the actors are so powerful now they can get out and reveal their plans without fear of being stopped? What if the relative release of data just means the crisis is no so acute it can't stay fully underground anymore? What if regulation crowns the 'big players'?

Rhetorical questions are not a substitute for analysis.

From my point of view, in the circumstances, the individual users lose grasp. The regulation is increasingly fragmenting the web and depriving the users from the free and beneficial uses of internet.

Restoring grasp 1,000 words at a time requires precision: careful definition of the subject of inquiry, substantial engaged learning, and painstaking explanation.


Webs Webs

r3 - 23 Aug 2014 - 19:31:22 - EbenMoglen
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