It's the 21st century and nearly 75% of the population of the United States has access to the Internet. Many of us use the Internet as a method of communication whether they write a blog, participate in online discussions or create and upload videos to YouTube. The Internet is a tool for the free exchange ideas and a have for free speech and should be treated as such. To date, no legislation has been passed that limits free speech or free expression on this medium, but it is not the time to breathe easy. Unfortunately, we have politicians who do not understand the true power of this technology and think of it as a novelty. One senator referred to the Internet as, "a series of tubes," while criticizing a bill that supported net neutrality. Net neutrality would prevent ISP's from charging fees to companies to get higher priorioty on their network. That's not what this post is about, though, it's about something more serious.
The comment that was made by the senator at the time was not all that unique and told me and many others just how out of touch politicians are. The scariest fact is that he and others who are just as clueless are the ones who have the power to enact legislation to regulate the Internet and other technologies. How can politicians create laws about something they have little or no knowledge about? This is not an issue about Democrats or Republicans, it about both sides of the aisle, how ignorant they are about technology and about the people that vote for them. The Internet is largely unregulated and it should stay that way.
The content on the Internet is, for the most part, unregulated, as it should be. It's like a country that has no government and yet, somehow, it works. There is a criminal element as well as vandals and bullies and, by conventional logic, should be pure chaos. But it's not. Out of the chaos comes help in the form of anti-virus companies, software providers who patch problem areas that are exploited and ordinary people who post warnings for others. It's a cooperative effort for the most part that has lasted so far and is showing no sign of letting up. The Internet is no longer the novelty that it started out to be.
We are living in an age where communication between anybody, anywhere is a reality. Years ago, the only ways a person could get heard is by writing a letter to the editor of the local paper or call a radio talk show and hope to get on the air. The Internet allows us to air our concerns about anything and e-mail lets us send our public officials messages quickly. We cannot allow out-of-touch politicians to make laws regulating a technology that they do not and will not take the time to understand fully. We, however, must use the Internet responsibly and keep it from coming under the rule of government. Luckily, those who do understand it are keeping it as safe as possible for the rest of us.
I am not one to preach politics, but this year many senators and all of our congressmen in the US come up for reelection. Take the time to learn how much the candidates really know about technology and where they stand on the issues. One of the biggest current issues today is Net Neutrality, which is important to maintain. So far, the US government has not passed any law that has regulated content, but it doesn't mean that they won't try (the only laws that have been passed are updates to older laws to acknowledge the Internet).
I hope you enjoyed this week of looking into the future. I enjoyed writing all of these, including this one. What are your thoughts? What part of the future do you have a feeling about? I would love to read your visions.