Free Rein to Control the Internet

That sound you hear is the door-of-innovation being closed by the wireline telephone company executives as they institute control over what you can and cannot do on the internet — and those gleeful grins on their faces are courtesy of our Federal government and the free rein they’ve been give to exhibit this behavior. Free Skype phone calls over the internet is poised to kill their businesses and they will not allow that to happen. Those other sounds you hear are the collective moans from wireless telephony executives that have realized citywide wireless technologies like WiMax will allow free Skype calls (and data transfer) in the urban areas where they enjoy the lion’s share of their profits.

Joining this anally retentive and controlling crowd are the cable companies, the movie industry and the media conglomerates that are seeing major portions of their respective businesses threatened by the possiblities that a free and unfettered internet allows. These groups will not allow that to happen and are also being enabled by our Federal government to do whatever they please to protect their businesses.

The control? Block successful offerings like Skype through port blocking. Cripple the use of technologies like Bluetooth in mobile phones so you can force your cell phone customers to pay twice (once for voice and again for data access — even though any technologically savvy person *knows* they’re getting screwed). Pressure Congress to extend copyright and institute ridiculous laws like the Digital Millenium Copyright Act so they don’t have to compete in the free market.

The mainstream media has *finally* awakened and are writing about what’s going on. Today’s Wall Street Journal had a front page story about telcos and cable companies that are blocking certain applications which subscribers use on their networks, ostensibly to preserve the quality of the network. Video file-sharing is the primary scapegoat since it consumes a lot of bandwidth but VOIP providers like Skype were discussed at length. Draconian laws and control measures shoring up downtrending industries (telco’s, publishing and media) have created an accelerating climate of control which has twisted Adam Smith’s invisible hand so it’s down the front of our trousers squeezing our family jewels. Luckily we’re finally to the point that the average person is also feeling the pain.

Though it is obvious to even a casual observer that the Bush Administration has demonstrated zero leadership in balancing the internet-as-platform-for-innovation and instead is cowtowing to US business interests and internal protectionism (while the rest of the world blows by us with their innovation), it’s not too late to stop the choking off of innovation here at home.

Where are our leaders and what are they doing besides command-and-control and instituting regulation and protectionism? I could’ve sworn that it was the Democrat’s that were slammed for more and more governmental regulation and the Republicans who were supportive of the free market.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.