July 23, 2024

Censoring the Web

Remember 10 years ago, way back in 1997, when you got your first email account and swore off snail mail forever?  Email was the bomb and surfing the web was the coolest thing ever. 

Then the first thought hit you – I could put my own content up, rave against the machine, all that jazz.  Say what you want and there’s no one to stop you, no media gatekeepers to filter their little letters to the editor list, no big brother watching over your shoulder.

How the dream has faded.  Atlas Shrugged is banned in Europe, Jihad Watch from multiple business and government offices, and Gates of Vienna was downed all day by Google’s sad attempt at spam blog blocking.

The virtual land of opportunity, the free range of the world wide web, has been fenced in, sub-divided, and sold off and out from under us.  The web was supposed to free us all from the tyranny of censorship and to a large extent it has.  But not everyone is happy when the people are free and the links above show the result of that snide churlishness.

In many ways Google is the web now – it’s the home page of many, many users.  “Google it” is a term everyone knows because that’s what we do.  Does Google – once the good guy to Microsoft’s black-hatted monopolists – have too much power?  As Pamela found out, cross them and you’ll find yourself in a page rank backwater nearly as far out of the mainstream as this web site.

Yes, MSN and Yahoo still exist.  But Google dominates web search and web businesses and authors are at their mercy as to traffic flow.

Hopefully GoV will learn from today’s lesson and take on their own hosting.  It’s easy enough and keeps one at least a small step out from under Google’s thumb.

As for Jihad Watch, it’s simply ludicrous to classify that web site as containing hate speech, a term that has no meaning when spouted by the haters of Robert Spencer.  In truth there is no more site on the web that’s classier than his when it comes to exposing the nature and news of Islam and its roots, aims, and actions.

Net Neutrality – the idea that everyone’s content has the same relative value and deserves the same chance at the Net’s resources – is a dream of the past as well.  While we were busy making the content that makes the Net worth having the carriers were plotting to steal it all away from us in order to shove videos and commercial clips at us down their asymmetrical pipes.  Everything TCP-IP travels through gateways that can be monitored, controlled, bought, and sold.  That’s exactly what’s happened. 

In fact, the freedom we thought we were getting from the Net was an illusion, as these and other events demonstrate.

As our on-line rights diminish, perhaps momentum for an underground Net-substitute will gather.  Imagine a loosely coupled mesh of local wireless networks linked together without the Teleco’s chokepoints.  Sort of a FidoNET over Wi-Fi.  Slow, perhaps, and definitely unreliable.  But it would be all ours, with no Google, AT&T, or Uncle Sam to jerk our chains.

Something to think about.


Marc is a software developer, writer, and part-time political know-it-all who currently resides in Texas in the good ol' U.S.A.

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