I came across this story when I was watching Hungry Beast last week, and it seemed appropriate to repost it here.
The video opens with a short and simple description of the internet: its a network which joins my computer to yours and your computer to your friend’s, and so on. But what the video rightly point out, is that the connections between computers that make up the network are owned by ISPs.
What surprised me in this video was the realisation that ISPs have the ability to control so much of the ‘free’ information that we take for granted. Especially in Australia, with only two major ISPs (Telstra and Optus), we are susceptible to the disadvantages of a duopoly.
The thought that ISPs could start providing preferential access to information hosted on servers in the United States or in Asia is a concerning one. As John Perry Barlow is quoted towards the end of the clip; the internet is also very difficult to regulate. While the Australian government would be able to introduce regulatory laws at a federal level to influence the control of individual Aussie ISPs, the Australian Government would be unable to influence American ISPs or Asian ISPs in the same way.
We take the “level playing field” of the internet for granted, but it’s something that needs to be protected. The only question is, by who?