posted Nov 01, 2000

Red Herring Trend #8 - Government
General IP Issues
11/1/2000; 1:28:43 PM

'The Net was first run by academics and engineers. Then it was ruled by the commercial sector. Now, it's increasingly being regulated by national governments. The next iteration: it will be governed by international accords. That could mean a slowing down of the Internet's incorporation of radical innovation, a shift that will affect companies aiming to overthrow today's Internet with new applications and technologies....

'The consequences of government regulation of the Internet are enormous: it would impose a degree of centralized control that previously didn't exist. And the regulations may be difficult and costly to implement technically, as well as creating a commercial barrier of entry for new firms. Overcoming the Internet's political challenges may be more important than overcoming its technical ones....

'It is a discomfiting outcome: the Internet's singular accomplishment was its ability to overturn the stodgy telecom industry, despite telcos' attempts to kill it. The Net posited itself as an unregulated network; unattached to any one application or proprietary commercial interest -- it was the platform for subsequent innovation. Government regulation -- now coördinated on an international level -- will create a new status quo.'

By far the scariest trend. By the time the free countries are done "compromising" with China, half of Africa and the Middle East, will the free countries still be free?  With ignorance of what the Internet really is immense, universal, and concentrated in the very people who would be making these international accords, I often wonder if there's really any long-term hope for freedom on the Internet.


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