Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Who Owns The Matrix We Call The Internet? 1

Imagining a world with complete government control of the Internet Veronique Rabuteau gives us a glimpse of what none of us wants to happen.
We will begin this story with a fiction story of a possible Orwellian future.

Sitting close to his screens, Pierre was assisting a predicable event. His timeline this morning was full of exclamations in different languages, like this one: “@David, don’t believe it, there’s no more results on Google, except bull*;&#!!”
The World Federation of Digital Regulation has successfully wan the vote of the 195 states belonging to Union.
It had taken some twenty years from the 2010 very beginning for governments and companies to agree on this world moratorium: information was no more available from different search engines. Only exceptions: heavy - paid registrations that agencies and experts were delivering to their rich clients.
So the Federation’s call for order - in these times of opinions and information flux, that had been destabilizing all countries for some time - had been heard to stop the disorder coming from the old Internet and what was called the Web.
“See how people freak out online! Man! They are or totally paranoid! No real balance in fact. They were talking about ‘private life’, and ‘identity’ but not asking the right questions."
They had made an alliance: cable operators, internet and mobile providers, owners of data centres… They owned the tech and material, so they had to keep it safe and make it profitable enough. This ‘participatory’ non sense of Internet early adopters was in the past. So far, so good…
via ABC News
The agreement, generally speaking, was quite simple: the only authorized "posts" were dedicated to government official releases, Federation releases and agreed sources – called: reliable sources of general interest – and, last but not least, whatever belongs to leisure and entertainment activities. Regarding these last ones, regulation was quite a bit subtle: a mix between free and registered access.
The other authorized and highly recommended "posts" were termed P.I.Ps (Personalized Information Process), or profiling. These were issued from Intelligence and Marketing agencies; they consisted in the building of digital profiles ranging from habits and preferences, to friendship connexions, and digital footprints found and archived on the Internet. Then, you just had to deliver to anyone what he or she was waiting for…
via Private Investigators
Pierre was perfectly aware of the process because he used to be, for years, a digital profiler belonging to a governmental agency, under cover of a community manager job for a well-known company.
His digital profile was a kind of model type: every detail was checked to build a perfect anodyne one. These little biographies of him, patiently built through tastes, music choices, videos, comments on blogs, etc. He even included some “deviance” - minor ones, and some participative activity in general protests.
His IP addresses were controlled: he left tracks when he wanted to do it. He even left some false ones for those who were spending time tracking him, as if saying to them: Oops… sorry, have I misled you?...
He’s got a character and stuck to it.
Except that one day he understood. He was infiltrating a hacker network – yes, he also had to do that.
He had spent months chatting with them, and, finally, was glad enough to find ideas and a kind of new energy through some of these young guys. Especially one of them, who – among his other activities – had formed a little group for some people, different ages, who wanted to learn some coding tricks. Different people were involved: young gamers, and even a mother. They did not know if she was there to ‘hack’ her favourite recipe site or spy on her teens!
via Hacking Mania
This hacker leader used to tell Pierre: “See how people freak out online! Man! They are or totally paranoid! No real balance in fact. They were talking about ‘private life’, and ‘identity’ but not asking the right questions. They don’t even think before googling to find a pizza, or whatever food you want, a place for their next vacation, an old friend, etc. They forget to think for themselves. Even the youngest ones. They are born with the Internet; they know basic tricks but they help themselves to the Web as if they were in their parents’ fridge! So, this is why I’ve decided to help those who want a better understanding; how to use alternative search engines, proxies, and so on, in other words to, stop viewing their computer as a coffee machine! I’m not telling you that they need to be have, but, the vast majority of people has gone into the digital era as if they were still living in the industrial revolution! See what I mean!...”
Via Aspire Web Service
Pierre decided to leave the agency to join this hacker network. To him it was a very special one. A network dedicated to resistance, which would need a concentration of tech. They were patiently following every all of the changes in the architecture of the Internet and the accompanying code, which was more and more dedicated to commercial uses. He and Pierre belonged to the number who had not forgotten that to use a computer you need electricity, Internet access, archiving of data, know-how of how to find these archives, know-how of how to index the archives, etc. Step by step, they had built an invisible independent parallel network.
And, this very morning, as the entire world (headed to or, already at their screens) was astonished wondering about the disappearance of any diversity, Pierre observed, with a kind of smile in his eyes, seeing all of this unfolding before him.”

I had first written this post in French before I was invited to be a writer on this blog. Here is the link to the original post in French: It was written in 2010 during some debates on net neutrality.

We cannot forget to keep an eye - without ‘paranoia’ - on how the Internet is changing, just to stay informed. We need observe the concentration of power and the moves in the Internet industry, especially the ones dedicated to Internet providers which are adapting, by example this way:
Nothing endures, in the technology world, but change. Cable has shown that it is able to adapt to changes in the market. Cable started with just television – let’s not forget. The emergence of triple play and cable’s vital role in pushing out market leading high speed broadband is just part of the picture of convergence developing across Europe and beyond. New services will continue to roll out with the IP box as perhaps the best current example of the sort of convergence connecting the worlds of TV and the internet. Even ‘over the top’ and TV everywhere offerings require something that cable is known for: Good, solid, super high speed connections.
From Cable news – Cable Europe
Or, to take another example: Liberty Global Inc. (LBTYA) - one of Europe’s main cable operators - who’s Chairman is the US billionaire John C. Malone:
- Wikipedia link:
- Bloomberg on John Malone:
- Cable operators fight Google, Apple - Customers are deserting for Internet TV, or IPTV, and other so-called over-the-top providers:

We have to think for ourselves – which could seem to be obvious to some. To succeed in this independent thinking, we need to be educated on the critical issues. We are at the beginning of this digital era. Lot of questions need to be carefully thought out – before anyone can deny these trends.

We need to be formed and informed, and to be assured of a peaceful and free use of this technology.

Diversity is an absolute necessity.

VĂ©ronique Rabuteau


Anonymous said...

Excellent article !! What cms do you use on your www ?

Anonymous said...

Excellent article !! What cms do you use on your www ?