When Achmed Maher started the revolution in Cairo through the Internet he exceeded the boundaries of what had already seemed possible on the Internet. Everyone knew that the Internet was beginning to allow for any individual to get his ideas out there, but did anyone ever imagine that it would so quickly allow for an individual, just your average citizen, to start a nation wide revolution? I believe that while people may have seen this as a possibility, not many people actually thought it would ever happen – but then it did, and the government shut down the Internet.
This is what got to me, not the fact that a government could control their citizens Internet use, but the fact that someone out there, some technician, has the ability to just turn the internet off. Should individuals out there have this power? Should governments or businesses have this power? And if so, when could they and/or should they use it?
After a quick Google News search of ‘internet’ I found a few articles to help explore these questions. The first article that popped up was Keep Your Mitts Off the Internet by Robert Miraldi which brought up the question of, ‘if someone is going to control the Internet who should it be? Big government or big business?’ At first glance I said government (and even after reading the article I still stick to this opinion) but to counter this idea Miraldi brings up the first amendment case. The Internet, like a newspaper or magazine, is a private equity “And the First Amendment guarantees that the government can't tell private people how they can speak…So, the government does not have the right to rule the Internet” (Miraldi). And so, at least in America, this is a clear cut answer that really cant be debated but it can still be questioned because while we may not like the idea of government ruling our Internet access, having a private company rule it is just as scary, if not more, because they have no restrictions at all on what they can take off and do to the Internet.
The title of the next article began with Is Chine Spying on us through Broadband?... by Hugo Gye, and while the majority of the article was on a business deal between the Chinese company Huawei and Britain, part of it brings up the security issues currently surrounding the Internet. With this particular business transaction, accusations arose that if the deal went through then Huawei could monitor all British Citizens Internet use. Last year the US Congress even issued a report asking companies not to do business with Huawei because of the security problems. But what if one day a company does do business with them and something goes wrong, or just if any hacker took over control of the internet within the US – at that point who should be the one that makes the call on shutting down the internet to protect ourselves?
These concerns of how the Internet should be run and who should control it are topics that need to be discussed and answered. The Internet is still relatively new and it is only going to get more and more powerful. While I believe it is good to have such a thing as net neutrality and allowing everyone to have an equal say, there are going to come points in the future where for whatever reason, be it people’s safety or a leak of important information, someone is going to need to have the power to take control over the internet and if need be shut it down in order to fix the problem – we just need to decide who that will be and how they should go about it.