Who should control the internet? Or more likely, who owns the internet? Many months have been spent on talks about SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), PIPA ( Protect IP Act ), CISPA ( Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act ), and ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement)… and these are like miniature Pandora’s boxes with some unknown force to unleash, once opened. In the name of internet regulation, the debacle is far from over. Is it all about cyber security? Or, are we seeing the end of privacy? In a world where data is shared in an information expressway, the very concept of freedom may just need to be redefined, especially when private and government entities will be allowed to monitor everything. Are these bills an act of good faith.. or a silent threat?
Don’t Mess With the Internet
There have been a growing enthusiasm to fend off anti-piracy bills and more activists are signing up to defend Internet freedom. Everyone who joins can decide to act and blackout their sites whenever a new threat is out. In the age of the citizen influencer, one act ( or a single tweet ) can make a whole new world of difference. Just take for instance the blackout SOPA movement that received millions of tweets on January 18th. Yes, cyber threat is as real as the air you breathe and there are plenty of hack centers across the world who are trained to hack, phish, and steal. Every day, citizens and corporations are vulnerable to phishing attacks, identity thefts and violations of Intellectual Property Rights. Companies spend hundreds to millions of dollars in keeping data safe in an age that relies entirely on the Web. We are more vulnerable than ever. But, does protection come at the price of giving our fundamental freedom, the right to privacy? We are walking a fine line here and though politicians are not technologists, we must educate our leaders on finding the best practices where it concerns the Internet.
Information is the New Commodity
There have been speculations that the new war will not be fought with guns and tanks, but of power over information freely flowing over the Internet… and whoever has control over it has the power. It is a war between privacy and piracy, of security vs. sovereignty. Perhaps, the Internet is now a ticking time bomb waiting to explode as the conflict grows between those who love the freedom, creativity and anonymity of the virtual world and those who are wary of cyber criminals who manipulate data for their own nefarious means. In an essence, we have an organized chaos that goes in circles and the growing ambiguity of terms used in bills that are meant to protect us from harm is alarming. For example, you may have heard of SOPA and PIPA because of activists concerns and yet, have you even known the existence of ACTA and CISPA? The lack of transparency and secrecy in drafting these is something to be worried about. In simple terms, shouldn’t we, the people using the internet, be consulted before governments negotiate in our behalf? The intent may be good, but what of the consequence?
A Future Threat to Innovators and Job Creators
Sometimes, I can’t help thinking that the Internet is lawless and it’s still a Wild West out there.. and even with countless bills, you can still find sites, here and foreign, violating copyright and other existing laws. We all know that sharing information online spreads like fire and if you care about anyone copying your code, why post it in the first place? Am I justified in my worry about these bills, of warrantless means of accessing personal data? Maybe, huge companies can benefit from this open access, like an open invitation to technological espionage. For startups and small businesses who are trying to compete, it may signal the end of innovation… and the beginning of closing our doors to creating new jobs. It’s a chain reaction. I may be wrong about it. The potential for abuse is still there.