The war on the internet has begun

We have to talk to them about, maybe in certain areas, closing that internet up in some way. Somebody will say: ‘Oh, freedom of speech, freedom of speech.’ These are foolish people. We have a lot of foolish people.
— trump, 12/8/2015

The internet is the last bastion of free space available to humanity.  A truly free place, for better and for worse, the internet serves as a new frontier for virtual pioneers to explore the depths of possibility, to discover what's never been seen, to create what's never been imaginable.  Citizens across the globe can make their voices heard, stand up against repressive governments, and unite to make progress.  We've just set foot upon this new, digital land, and the tools to empower and emancipate are in their infancy.  Yet, despite the relatively short time in which humans have resided in their online Providence, the incredible opportunities are blatantly obvious.  We have the power to connect and link together to form a global consciousness, to truly see we are one.

The Republican party of the USA intend to destroy the free and open internet.  Since the inauguration of trump, there is no question they plan to launch an assault aimed at controlling and ultimately censoring the world wide web.  They plan to harvest and sell our online data and browsing histories to the highest bidder.  In turn, they will microtarget us based on aforementioned information and deliver individualized propaganda across the nation in an effort to manipulate public opinion and political will.  The annihilation of Net Neutrality is a priority for the Republicans. Subsequently, an effort to commoditize portions of the internet will occur.  Ultimately, terrorism or cyberattacks will be used as a justification to curtail access to the web or censor of the internet.  Let's delineate these claims:

trump's FCC Commissioner is a vocal critic of Net Neutrality and has the power to fight a war against the free and open internet

trump's FCC Commissioner is a vocal critic of Net Neutrality and has the power to fight a war against the free and open internet

On April 4th, 2017, broadband privacy rules were axed.  A law was officially signed into law after passing Congress on party lines.  Not a single Democrat voted for the legislation.  This allows corporate monopoly ISPs like Comcast to extract and harvest our data and sell it to the highest bidder (literally).  Facebook and Google already engage in this, but their product is free.  ISPs are now free to treat their overpaying customers like human batteries, less interested in providing a quality product and more incentivized to monitor and surveil.  Republicans have literally sold out the American people to their corporate sponsors, despite strong opposition from an overwhelming majority of Americans.

Cambridge Analytica is a corporation which uses online data and "psychographic analysis" to microtarget people online based on facebook likes, browsing history, and online data.  Their parent company, SCL Group, has been hired to shape public opinion and manipulate the public's political will through online advertising, and propaganda.  Their activities are referred to as 'psyops' in the lexicon of the military.  Cambridge Analytica was used by trump's campaign to push propaganda to specific voters in swing states in order to control the narrative.  They were very effective and will only be more powerful thanks to the rollback of broadband privacy regulations.  They openly boast about having 5,000 data points on 220 million people.  Undoubtedly they will be able to microtarget more individuals with individualized propaganda, warping reality beyond recognition via alternative fact, conspiracy theory, and misinformation.

Straight from Cambridge Analytica's website

Straight from Cambridge Analytica's website

Net Neutrality finds itself in the crosshairs of the GOP.  Its existence hangs in the balance.  Net Neutrality (NN) is the principle in which ISPs must enable access to all content and apps regardless of the source, sans favoritism, with absolutely no blocking of websites or products.  Without NN, bad actors, corporations, and politicians can slow down access to websites they don't like, or even block them entirely.  There could also be more of a crackdown on media and dissent vis-a-vis Internet Police.  An Open Internet is far from guaranteed, and must be defended.

A viral image from 2014 shows what website bundles could look like.

A viral image from 2014 shows what website bundles could look like.

The ultimate desire of telecommunication monopolies like Comcast is to purposefully slow, or "pinch" internet speeds and afterwards sell access to fast lane which only exists due to the artificial manipulation of aforementioned companies.  Next, they will attempt to bundle websites in the same fashion as they bundle TV channels.  You'll pay a base fee per month and be allowed to access a few websites for free, much in the same way you have 'basic cable' for free.  Entry to other websites will cost more, the same way HBO does.  You'll be forced to pay for bundles of websites rather than being able to view them all freely and without censorship, like you do now.  They would have the power to hurt websites they didn't like (Imagine trump as the Gatekeeper of what you're 'allowed' to witness online), and censor journalists and stifle dissent.

The FCC under Obama agreed to the principle of NN, and worked to keep the internet free, and open.  The trump administration, undergirded by the Republican party, has pledged open war on the internet, won the first battle in obliterating broadband privacy laws, and even vowed to censor the internet, literally.  He's openly talked about "closing the internet in some way", justifying his proposed shutdown of the internet to combat online terrorism by ISIS.  This is obviously a tried-and-true strategy, and easily imaginable in the wake of a major terrorist attack.  He proposed dismantling internet infrastructure in areas of the Middle East to, unsurprisingly, stop ISIS.  Soon after his inauguration he issued a gag order on government agencies and blocked their social media accounts.  He disdains the media and would love to shut them down online.  

Republicans control both houses of congress and the Presidency.  Ajit Pai, trump's FCC Commissioner, has called Net Neutrality a mistake and has already started targeting laws that support it.  They have the opportunity to disassemble the internet and put it under the control of corporations and special interests.  Propaganda companies hope to warp public opinion.  With so  many (legitimate) distractions and breaking news stories in the news, they could sneak this in under the radar.

The internet has the power to lead to a global consciousness, to elevate our species to a new plateau, to grant us the abilities to explore our true potential.  The internet is a realm of freedom and expression, it is a reality, it is another dimension.  It is a public utility to which all people must have access.  It is as vital a resource as water, or food.  And we must fight to protect it from the inevitable battles in the near future.

-Adam Mantine

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