Sometimes you have to wonder if people appreciate the significance of what they’re saying. On Huffington Post this morning, I found an account of a panel at the Personal Democracy Forum gathering on the question of who controls the Internet’s optical core. The writer, Steve Rosenbaum, declares that Broadband is a Civil Right:
If the internet is the backbone of free speech and participation, how can it be owned by corporate interests whose primary concern isn’t freedom or self expression or political dissent? Doesn’t it have to be free?
OK, that’s a reasonable point to discuss. Unfortunately, the example that’s supposed to back up this argument is the role that broadband networks have played in the Iranian protests. Does anyone see the problem here? Narrow-band SMS on private networks was a big problem for the government of Iran in the recent protests, but broadband not so much because they could control it easily through a small number of filters.
If broadband infrastructure isn’t owned by private companies, it’s owned by governments; the networks are too big to be owned any other way. So in the overall scheme of things, if I have to choose who’s more likely to let me protest the government from among: A) The Government; or B) Anybody Else, my choice is pretty obviously not the government.
Isn’t this obvious?