BBC Explains the End of the Open Internet After It Ended

May 18, 2019

A 3,500 word story from the BBC explains the end of the open Internet. The main idea is that the US approach of sending anything to anyone is not what China, Russia, and other countries will accept. “The Global Internet Is Disintegrating. What Comes Next?” is not news. The essay is a pinch of intelligence agency analysis (a small pinch I might add), some business school semantics, and the routine quotes from experts.

The “what comes next” is mostly ignored. The reason is that the actions taken by a number of countries over the last decade represent the construction of a series of walled gardens. Blocking access is old hat in Iran. China and Russia have stepped up their efforts with political hand waving. Russia has laws which make the US companies either roll over or shut down. How about LinkedIn in Russia?

China is doing the system administrator squeeze. The twist is that Chinese high technology companies are lending a helping hand. Last time I was in China it took only a few minutes for my mobile phone to become a less than helpful gizmo. Five years earlier it took a couple of days to achieve the near useless state.

The BBC explains:

A separate internet for some, Facebook-mediated sovereignty for others: whether the information borders are drawn up by individual countries, coalitions, or global internet platforms, one thing is clear – the open internet that its early creators dreamed of is already gone.

With the business school jargon “digital deciders” wafting through the article, the question “what comes next” is not answered. The reason is that the reality is unpalatable to many in what China and Russia think of as the West.

The actions of countries attempting to prevent unfettered flows of information are designed to protect the government and commercial sector from the difficulties that arise when using US technology without an old fashioned speed limiter. Smaller countries are not keen on having Facebook and Twitter users coordinate protests and disrupt what these countries’ governments see as “normal” processes.

The so called digital deciders have already decided. The future is in place, and what needs to be described and understood include:

  • The actions of China and Russia are designed to control US influence. The future is a shift from control to more aggressive actions.
  • The alignment of nation states will be a decision by those countries to sign on for either the China approach or the Russia approach. In short, new blocs are now taking shape.
  • The behaviors of US high technology companies are designed to increase the power of these firms. Therefore, the companies will find themselves sued and hassled because some thinkers in China and Russia believe it is their duty to step in and reign in the actions of unregulated US firms.

The future of the Internet is, in my opinion, a battle ground. Bad things can happen in such a place even if it is digital.

Stephen E Arnold, May 18, 2019

digital deciders

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