The End of Net Neutrality, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Blockchain
Posted at 7:30h, 19 Dec 2017 in Blockchain by Bonnie Halper No Comments 135 Likes Share

Last week, the FCC reversed the 2015 Net Neutrality Act and contrary to popular misconception, the internet did not disappeared. In fact, there has been a lot of disinformation or phacts as we now like to call them (in print, at least), as they bear little or no resemblance to the real thing, surrounding NN.

As for that so-called last mile, as Wired pointed out in 2014, prior to the first NN vote, in What Everyone Gets Wrong in the Debate Over Net Neutrality, “The net neutrality debate is based on a mental model of the internet that hasn’t been accurate for more than a decade. We tend to think of the internet as a massive public network that everyone connects to in exactly the same way. We envision data traveling from Google and Yahoo and Uber and every other online company into a massive internet backbone, before moving to a vast array of ISPs that then shuttle it into our homes. That could be a neutral network, but it’s not today’s internet… Ten years ago, internet traffic was “broadly distributed across thousands of companies,” said Craig Labovitz (CEO of DeepField Networks, an outfit whose sole mission is to track how companies build internet infrastructure) “..But by 2009, half of all internet traffic originated in less than 150 large content and content-distribution companies, and today, half of the internet’s traffic comes from just 30 outfits, including Google, Facebook, and Netflix… Because these companies are moving so much traffic on their own, they’ve been forced to make special arrangements with the country’s internet service providers that can facilitate the delivery of their sites and applications. Basically, they’re bypassing the internet backbone, plugging straight into the ISPs (and) essentially rewired the internet.”

And neglected to tell you as, well, they had their own agenda, and it had to do with owning and having the power to manipulate the conversation. As Reason points out (No, the FCC Isn’t ‘Overturning Net Neutrality’), service providers like Google, Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter, all of whom opposed overturning the NN regulations, “engage in kinds of content blocking that they say broadband providers could possibly do.”

What to speak of the fact that GoogleFiber was conveniently not included in the 2015 Title II rules, in case you were wondering why Google was spending so much time in the White House during the last administration.

What also was not widely reported was that the new RIF (Restoring Internet Freedom) order “will transfer oversight of ISPs to the Federal Trade Commission, which has decades of experience ensuring consumer protection, privacy, and security. It will return to transparency rules established by the FCC in 2010, which would require broadband providers to disclose their network management practices, thereby cutting down on the potential for sneaky behavior.”

In Silicon Valley, Free Is Never Free

Literally on the heels of the vote, YCombinator’s Sam Altman published a blog post (E Pur Si Muove), commenting that “Earlier this year, I noticed something in China that really surprised me.  I realized I felt more comfortable discussing controversial ideas in Beijing than in San Francisco.  I didn’t feel completely comfortable—this was China, after all—just more comfortable than at home.”

He was referring to restrictions on free speech, noting that “I’ve seen credible people working on ideas like pharmaceuticals for intelligence augmentation, genetic engineering, and radical life extension leave San Francisco because they found the reaction to their work to be so toxic.  “If people live a lot longer it will be disastrous for the environment, so people working on this must be really unethical” was a memorable quote I heard this year.”

Not that China is any sort of panacea (AP Exclusive: Digital police state shackles Chinese minority).

Censorship by the tech cartel has risen sharply since the 2015 NN rules were put into place and again, in case you missed it, as of December 18, Twitter will track all of your posts, everywhere on line, whether or not you’re on Twitter, and if they find that your content is “inappropriate,” they will suspend your account. Now, precisely what that means, well, according to Mashable, Twitter to neo-Nazis: you have until December 18, while according to Broadcast and Cable, “Twitter blocked Rep. Marsha Blackburn [the Republican chair of the House Communications subcommittee who helped overturn FCC broadband privacy rules] from advertising her Senate campaign launch video because it featured a pro-life message.”

This was a tweet from an elected representative. We can only assume that, unless your beliefs are in lockstep with those of the tech cartel, you’ll be kicked off the island as well.

So, who really controls that so-called last mile?

Enter the Blockchain

Speaking of holding on to control of one’s fiefdom, Hacker Noon noted that Amazon is the biggest threat to bitcoin right now, as the retailer refuses to accept cryptocurrencies on its platform. Perhaps one of the unstated reasons: tracking and data collection, which doesn’t exist on the blockchain. Speed of transactions is an issue, according to the article, which also notes that Amazon might be considering launching its own cryptocurrency, “not in a bitcoin friendly way,” having bought the domains “amazonethereum.com, amazoncryptocurrency.com, and amazoncryptocurrencies.com. This move might be simply covering their bases. Or it might be insight into future endeavours.”

Lest we forget, major companies were leery of the internet back in the late 90s, and while all eyes might be focused on cryptocurrencies presently, it’s really merely the first use case for the blockchain, and trust us and as we said in a post not too long ago, it’s all about the blockchain – and the potential for a blockchain-based Amazon competitor at long last.

It’s still very early days.

“I don’t know who Satoshi is, but I’m skeptical that he, she, or they would have been able to come up with the idea for bitcoin immersed in the current culture of San Francisco—it would have seemed too crazy and too dangerous, with too many ways to go wrong,” said Altman.

From what he has observed, it seems that the visionaries might have fled Silicon Valley and given the events of the last few weeks – the reversal of NN and hopefully, its chokehold on innovation along with it, and the sudden meteoric rise of the blockchain’s first use case, (Four Years of Token Sales, Visualized in One Graphic) don’t despair. The future always belongs to those who can see it coming, so no need not to end this latest iteration of the online world, if not the year, with a big smile, as we move onward and forward.