“The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.” ~Edmund Burke
Right now the internet community is in upheaval over one of the worst treaties ever devised: ACTA. It is presented as a treaty that safeguards the intellectual property of people. But in reality it is one of the most freedom-threatening legislations ever devised for the internet. It hurts me to see how the internet – the only free place left in the modern world of media – is being stripped of its liberties by a bunch of corporate pigs and unelected autocrates. However, it’s not too late to do something about it.
- What is the internet
The internet is a network of networks. Originally it started as military a research project in the 70′s conducted by The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to allow communication between different networks. Nowadays it has grown out to become the most important platform of media as it connects many networks around the globe. Since the internet was commercialized in the 90′s it has grown tremendously. Nowadays the internet carries about 95% of all telecommuncation traffic and over 2 billion people use the internet.
The internet has literally connected the world. The idea that you can almost instantly communicate with someone else on the other side of the globe is something that most people couldn’t fathom a few decades ago. The rise of the internet has changed our society and has created a new kind of society that’s no longer confined by national, cultural, or geographical borders. Other than that the internet is also not owned by anyone in particular, because it’s just a protocol that allows different networks to communicate with each other. This allows anyone to have their own place in the world wide web.
The internet gives us access to a huge amount of resources. Using smart search engines you can find pretty much anything you can imagine. The internet is like a huge library that provides you what you’re looking for within a hand’s reach. Some researchers have claimed that using internet has changed the workings of our brain. Maybe so, but it’s foolish to say that it has dumbed down our society. On the contrary, the internet provides vast amounts of resources that anyone has instant access to; it has never been easier to find the information that you’re looking for. And that’s exactly what’s at stake here: The free and unrestricted sharing of information.
- Internet and the free world
If anything the digital age has taught us that the internet community is perfectly capable of creating and maintaining its own society. The internet is like what America used to be: An unrestricted place that allows people to create something out of nothing. However, the liberties that we take for granted are being challenged by people who will go to incredible lengths to satisfy their greed – even if that means sacrificing the public interest. In some countries internet access is already restricted. Also youtube is becoming increasingly more regulated. File sharing networks are getting sued by big media companies for copyright infringement. All these practices have nothing to do with fair trade, but are an attempt to exercise total control over your activities on the internet.
As you can see in the video, ACTA can – and will – also be used as a tool to censor information to keep things away from the public domain. The culture of secrecy within governments and corporations has been exposed numerous times by organizations such as wikileaks in particular. From all sides the establishment has been trying to get rid of wikileaks by blocking financial support through big financial companies such as VISA, and even assassination attempts have been made according to Julian Assange. It’s very clear that the elitist establishment is terrified of wikileaks, and it suggests that they do have something to hide.
The ones who profit from freedom are the people. Having unrestricted access to resources is what makes improvement, growth, and development possible. The internet is a paradise for entrepeneurs, because they’re not restricted and don’t need much of a capital to start something up. Look at some of the biggest internet companies like Google or Facebook and imagine that it started with just some nerds programming software behind their computers as they gave shape to revolutionary ideas. Now these companies are worth billions of dollars; made out of bits of information floating in thin air and running through cables.
The ones who profit from restrictions are the elite, because it strengthens their power structure. Transparency is the arch enemy of secrecy and that’s why the internet is the frontier of the free world. We can never allow the internet to be privately owned and regulated like the majority of the traditional media already are. The internet has given the free people of the world a platform in which they can voice their message. Big news spreads like wildfire because communication is pretty much instant across the whole globe. The internet has been an invaluable tool in raising global awareness on various issues. This allows organizations such as Avaaz to exist and connect the people of the world in an effort to make a change by creating a global movement which stands for the values that we share as human beings.
- How to protect the internet
Most important is to raise awareness. The simple truth is that freedom-threatening agreements often get signed in the back office, away from the public view. Exposing treaties like ACTA is the best defense against those who try severely hurt the liberties of the people over nothing but self-interest. The truth is that their biggest fear is leaking of their plans into the public domain. Even if they manage to ever let some corrupt official sign this kind of treaty, we can still choose to simply not comply. It’s impossible to lock up every single person for violating their fascist laws. The system is build around fear and the one thing it cannot deal with is massive united resistance.
There are people who have a pessimistic view on global internet movements. They believe that it doesn’t really change anything, but this is far from true. I believe that without the internet the activists in countries such as Egypt, Tunesia, and Libya would not have been able to create the leverage that was necessary to overthrow their oppressive regimes. However, it has also become clear that the dictatorial governments in those countries have become increasingly good at restricting internet traffic within their borders. This is troubling, because those same technologies could be used by our governments. Treaties like ACTA are a way for the corporate elite to limit internet traffic under the guise of a harmless trade agreement.
The very platform that allows us to balance out the inequality between the establishment and the people should never become part of the tools that governments can use against their citizens. Right now the internet provides liberty, but it could also be turned into a means of digital surveillance for total control of the population. The most effective way to fight this is to educate ourselves and to raise awareness amongst our peers. Knowledge is power; you can’t fight ideas with bullets.