Notes from a Linguistic Mystic

Although much of the focus right now is on defeating the existing web censorship bills (SOPA and PIPA), I think the internet on the whole would be better off considering these things not as an “if”, but a “when”, and considering the long game, not just fighting for the short-term defeat of these bills.

In a sense, those who aim to take away internet freedom to suppress speech, prop up dying business models and make money have now shown us their “better mousetrap”, and we need to consider the current lag of support for these bills as our extra time to build better mice.

The fact that people around the world were forced to stop and consider the effect that the US Congress can have on the internet means not just that Washington is broken, but that the internet is too. This, then, should be a time when people around the world, where such work is still permitted, start focusing in on new ways of conducting the internet that are immune from such measures. Whether this comes by restructuring DNS, by implementing speedier and more widespread darknets, by mesh networking, we as geeks should now have one goal: to create an internet which is decreasingly vulnerable to censorship and exploitation by governments, private enterprise, or other censoring entities.

Opportunity to work constructively with Washington would be nice, to be sure, and I’d love to see the Free Internet considered as Free Speech. But I believe that although pressure should be applied to politicians and the political fight must be fought, only long term solution is to improve our technology to make sure that when purchased politicians push for censorship, overtly or silently, Team America: World Internet Police will find their methods even more futile than SOPA’s methods currently are, and democracy and free speech will have a chance to persist through whatever laws, blocks and shutdowns that special interests and lobbyists may purchase.


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