Connecting the dots from government spying to private profit to keeping you in the dark…
Under the Microscope
by Glynn Wilson
Did you wake up Friday morning and turn on your computer and notice that your connection to the Internet was running a lot slower than usual?
Well, you were not alone.
Have you seen one single solitary news organization in your community or in this nation that provided a report on what was going on?
No you say?
Welcome to the future of news.
We reached a critical turning point this week in who controls the information you will be able to get for the rest of your lives. And guess what, you are the loser.
And your Senators in Washington are as responsible as the president and the telephone and cable companies that want to control all the information and avoid lawsuits to boot.
But does that news bother the editorial writers at the state and nation’s big newspapers? Apparently not.
As long as ATandT keeps those Web ads coming to the Websites of the corporate chain newspapers, they will just continue to lay off more reporters and crank out the local PR – and laugh all the way to the bank.
To get a glimpse of where this is headed, here’s a sampling of headlines Sunday from some of the biggest Internet Service Providers in the U.S.
At Charter.net, my ISP, the headlines were:
Photos prompt Ms. America scandal
Inside The Secret Britney Video Shoot
At Att.net, the site of the phone giant ATandT, broken up by the Reagan Justice Department but put back together by the Bush administration under the control of Southwest Bell out of Texas (Bush country), here’s what’s news:
Create the perfect burger
6 dating moves that show you’re interested
At Verizon.net, videos are popular, such as this one:
Step Brothers – video
At Cox.com, they like to report on themselves a lot:
Cox Ranked Highest Among Business Data Providers in J.D. Power and Associates Study
At Comcast.net, the lead programmer must be a Stones fan:
Rolling Stone Leaves Wife for Teenager
An exhaustive search, even among the government sponsored techie magazines online, found very little to explain what happened this week or even hint at the Rubicon we crossed.
At least I found this headline, but if you think guys in business suits with some technical training are the journalists of the future, let’s hope this guy from the Washington Technology blog is not the model for it.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to climb aboard the Web 2.0 trend
Of course like every other Bush appointee to high office over the past seven and a half years, the FCC’s Michael Martin talks a good game about standing up for freedom – while doing everything behind the scenes to destroy it. Look at the Bush FCC’s statement on Net Neutratily:
“The Commission, under Title I of the Communications Act, has the ability to adopt and enforce the net neutrality principles it announced in the Internet Policy Statement. The Supreme Court reaffirmed that the Commission ‘has jurisdiction to impose additional regulatory obligations under its Title I ancillary jurisdiction to regulate interstate and foreign communications.’ Indeed, the Supreme Court specifically recognized the Commission’s ancillary jurisdiction to impose regulatory obligations on broadband Internet access providers.” (From Broadband Deployment Notice of Inquiry – April 16, 2007)
The availability of the Internet has had a profound impact on American life. This network of networks has fundamentally changed the way we communicate. It has increased the speed of communication, the range of communicating devices and the variety of platforms over which we can send and receive information.
As Congress has noted, “the rapidly developing array of Internet . . . services available to individual Americans represent an extraordinary advance in the availability of educational and informational resources to our citizens.”
The Internet also represents “a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity.”
In addition, the Internet plays an important role in the economy, as an engine for productivity growth and cost savings.
But it is up to us to provide the “but….”
The but is that all of that is well and good, let everyone in the country publish their own blog, but don’t expect the programmers and business suits who want to make all the money off the Web really allow people to access all of those blogs. When the traffic level picks up, they now have the power to muzzle traffic to a Web site like this one – and not have to worry about being sued in court for doing it.
How is that possible, you say? And what does that have to do with the spying bill, telecom vote in the Senate this week?
Well, you see, the telecom giants have to be able to spy on your Web use to figure out how to grab all the traffic and advertising revenue. That’s the bottom line.
Newspapers are already losing print circulation to people who have learned how to connect to the Internet and switched to reading on the Web on their computer screens. Newspaper managers hate blogs and especially craigslist.org, the free classified ad service with the simple text interface. It’s so easy to use and effective that most people who are Web savvy have switched to using it to buy and sell things and find a place to live.
So newspapers are having a hard time selling classified ads anymore, a staple of their revenue stream for the past 100 years. What will replace that revenue? How will they survive?
Will the telecom ad money save them? Or is that just a short term mechanism of survival for them, while the telecoms figure out everyone’s habits so they can corner the market?
Like everything else in a democracy, it is ultimately going to be up to the people to elect candidates who will stand up for them. There has never been a more critical election than the one coming up in November. Have the two major parties selected the right candidates?
I have my doubts. But it’s not like there is a viable third party alternative.
Perhaps the only hope we have is for people in the know to keep up the pressure on the candidate of “hope,” Barack Obama. He broke one campaign promise already and voted for the FISA bill this week. This is a troubling sign.
There were a few Senators who had the courage and the intelligence to stand against the bill. We published the best of their speeches here. If you want to know what’s really going on, you should go there and read them. We may be the only news organization in American to publish them.
We know the big newspapers largely ignored them.
And it is a sure bet that you would not see a word about them on the big bad home pages of the future. Do you think for a second that ATandT or the cable companies would publish a story that says they should be sued, a story that directly attacks their ability to continue building an economic and information monopoly in the future?
Of course not. The phone companies and cable companies have no stake in the First Amendment. They own it. The freedom belongs to newspapers, they believe, but they simply will not stand up and fight for that right online.
So now that the debate is over and all the latest spying software was loaded onto every computer server on Friday, the day after the FISA bill was signed exempting them from legal liability, the next fight is on the way.
There are thousands of programmers working for corporations right now trying to figure out how to shut us up and shut us down. There are a few programmers who take sides with us in the debate over Net Neutrality. But there are fewer and fewer jobs for them outside of corporate America.
The bottom line is this. We have this freedom to publish now, but it may not be around much longer.
Where do you stand? Do you want to depend on ATandT for your news?
If not, maybe it’s time you considered taking a pro-active step to support the independent Web Press.
© 2008 – 2015, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.