Tina K. Russell

March 20, 2008

E Pluribus Unix

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Tina Russell @ 3:02 pm

FCC commish: Net neutrality shouldn’t extend to illegal acts

I think that what this FCC guy doesn’t get, here, is that the Post Office will certainly open letters they suspect of containing bombs or poisons, but they wouldn’t open a letter or package because they suspect it contains information, say, about securities fraud, or for that matter, contains a trove of pirated movies. The “holiness” that surrounds America’s sovereign mail is a right hard-fought-for, and it ought to continue into the digital realm for the same reasons: snooping for reasons other than palpable and immediate danger puts a chilling effect on free speech and prevents the productivity we associate with a free society.

Besides, I hope they realize that Internet transmissions are not immediately discernible streams of data, but tiny packets that are sorted and assembled at the destination each way. Who’s to say that an individual packet contains a portion of a movie that I bought legally, or a portion of a movie that I pirated? In order to find out, the government, or a private company, would have to do much more snooping than I’m comfortable with. And if we single out one kind of traffic, like peer-to-peer or BitTorrent, then we will stamp out legitimate uses and prevent new technology from developing on those protocols.

I hope we realize that Tim Berners-Lee and company invented the Internet warts-and-all… they took a huge risk. Just like how democracy lets anyone run for public office, cyberspace lets anyone express one’s own voice and own one’s own printing press. If we’re going to tackle the ‘Net’s dark side, we need to work within it, not above it.

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