The internet is a wild and varied place. There is a lot of information available that I find interesting, exciting, or just plain useful. I know that there are vast tracts of data I disagree with, just as there are vast tracts that I think everybody should read (I link to a small fraction of it from here). What worries me is mediation, legislation, and a “Big Brother” attitude to internet control.
A few weeks back I had a heated discussion, over dinner in a nice restaurant, with a good friend of mine who wanted the government to ban certain types of criminal activity on the internet. He wanted a screening system to prevent people from acessing information they shouldn’t see… children from porn, etc… Although I could see the common sense in his arguement, if the impressionable were protected they might not pose a risk to others, or get themselves in danger, but at the same time it worried me that someone I respect so much might easily follow a way of thinking that leads to the mediation and control of the internet.
I know there is a lot of illegal, and harmful activity on the world wide web, there is also a far greater amount of legitimate free speech available here, and that sense of freedom should be protected. Hence my argumentative discussion a few weeks ago, and hence my sense of dread when I read that the House of Representatives have voted against an amendment to enshrine the principle of net neutrality in legislation(full story here).
This isn’t a matter of “freedom of speech” it is about the freedom of thought and communication, and in a rapidly polarising world, it is the difference between “them” and “us”. So write to your politician, start a blog, make some noise, but don’t let a lack of understanding lead to a tiered internet where what you see may be controlled by who you vote for or who you pay…