Power and the Internet: play or pay [telecom]

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The February, 2013 issue of Cryptogram, writen by Bruce "Secrets and
Lies" Schneier, contains a warning to Internet users: either play the
game with the big boys, or pay more and more to stand on the

   All disruptive technologies upset traditional power balances, and
   the Internet is no exception. The standard story is that it
   empowers the powerless, but that's only half the story. The
   Internet empowers everyone. Powerful institutions might be slow to
   make use of that new power, but since they are powerful, they can
   use it more effectively. Governments and corporations have woken up
   to the fact that not only can they use the Internet, they can
   control it for their interests. Unless we start deliberately
   debating the future we want to live in, and the role of information
   technology in enabling that world, we will end up with an Internet
   that benefits existing power structures and not society in general.


   Now powerful interests are looking to deliberately steer this
   influence to their advantage. Some corporations are creating
   Internet environments that maximize their profitability: Facebook
   and Google, among many others. Some industries are lobbying for
   laws that make their particular business models more profitable:
   telecom carriers want to be able to discriminate between different
   types of Internet traffic, entertainment companies want to crack
   down on file sharing, advertisers want unfettered access to data
   about our habits and preferences.

Mr. Schneier has an unusual talent for pointing out what is later
obvious: he is the man who created the "Security Theater" label for
the Transportation Security Administration. I agree with his warning:
those who participate are the only ones who count.


Bill Horne

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