I never believed in absolute freedom for everyone. If a person has absolute freedom, that freedom will necessary conflict with the freedom of others. If I have the freedom to kill, you lose the freedom to live. If you have the freedom to steal, I lose my freedom to own possessions. If they have the freedom to dictate our lives, we lose our freedom to live as we please. We can either let everyone have limited amounts of freedom, or have a single person have absolute freedom, or a minority with large amounts of freedom. There is no scenario where every single person can possess absolute freedom. To say so will either be delusional or deceitful.
Thus, when I heard of a revolutionary new movement from the FCC that claims to be “restoring Internet freedom“, I begin to wonder who will lose theirs. Turns out, that was almost everyone. Somehow, they managed to affect the freedom of people far outside of America. Once again, America has proven that she still has the power to change the world, as the atomic bomb had once demonstrated.
By allowing ISPs freedom to throttle Internet connections, they can first use this access as a bargaining chip to force websites to pay up to get unrestricted access to their audience. Either that, or they can force these websites to enter a “partnership” with them and subsequently have these sites adhere to a very strict policy denoting what they can and cannot publish, essentially robbing them of their voice. Smaller websites will die because their potential audience base have worse and worse access to their sites as they cannot afford to pay the ISPs, or are unwilling to have their contents policed and dictated.
These small sites are normally the trailblazers, the ones leading the charge in creating a new landscape. After all, Google and Facebook didn’t start off as the multimillion corporations that they are now. They were small companies who found what was then an untapped opportunity and ended up creating a new world for themselves and us. It has been shown, time and time again, that old money are slow in exploring new territory. It wasn’t their fault to be honest, they have a solid base and a reliable strategy, and generally have a lot more to answer to for them to just take a plunge. But they have a rather unfortunate habit of strangling out would-be competition and high risers, much like an old leech slowly draining the life out of a baby deer. And it is these big companies, these ISPs, that are now trying to get every newcomer to pledge loyalty and a large chunk of their profits to them. In such a hostile environment where new blood can expect to lose their voice and cash, how would you expect them to have any significant growth? How can you expect new opportunities to be born when your lack of policing turns them into stillbirths? Why will the next new thing appear on America’s turf when they are expected to bend over backwards just to show themselves? With this move, you are driving innovation out of America. That, or you’re driving them six feet under.
Aside from that, common folk will lose their voices too. Look at the participants for Battle For The Net. Do you notice a common theme among some of the biggest names there? Reddit. Imgur. Etsy. Kickstarter. GitHub. Vimeo. Amazon. Patreon. Twitter. Airbnb. Some rather big names, but they all are platforms for people to get their voices, their crafts, their trades, and their passions out. Any attempt to throttle Internet access to the population will result in the deaths of these corporations since they will lose both their customers and their vendors. But not just that. The regulars of those sites will have their ways of reaching out and listening to others all around the world restricted by ISPs. Imagine having your mouth sewn shut and eardrums pierced unless you agree to pay an unreasonable amount of money to someone every month. The fact that people have to argue to not have their voices taken away is ridiculous to begin with, yet here we are now.
But surely, the government is reasonable, right? The senators and representatives are elected and trusted with this sacred duty to care for the people and to lead the nation, surely they will not think of threatening future economic development and growth, as well as the rights of the people of their nation? I mean, shouldn’t the rights and benefits of their voters come first? These people must surely be compassionate and wise beings who will put the interests of their people first in every well-planned decision they made, right?
And may I remind you, they are about to infringe on basic human rights just so ISPs can have a bigger profit margin.
On the very bright side, if they actually went through with this, the rush of innovators from America to the world in an effort to reach out to a freer market might lead to a new era for the World Wide Web. Other countries can seize this opportunity when America is busy shooting themselves in the foot to draw new talent, invest in new opportunities, set up fertile grounds for large Internet-based multinational corporations to call home when they’re displaced from America. Congratulations America, you created a better Internet for all. Too bad you aren’t in it.