The Internet is the Wild West of today. Along with other innovations in technology, it has helped to create a do-it-yourself media. For a minimal cost anyone can create their own movie studio or reporter’s desk, and for the price of Internet service be able to share their views and art with the entire world. In the last week, AT&T moved to allow filtering technology to be used on its system to track the use of copyrighted material. The strange thing about AT&T announcing that it will monitor the distributing of copyrighted material is that they spent six years and large sums of money fighting that chore. They won that court case, and now they decide to implement the technology.
I appreciate the move to control copyrighted material for the artist. Being an artist I can feel the sentiment. The thing that tugs at my stomach is the other uses the filtering technology could lead to. The warrantless wiretaps are up for renewal right now. There are factions of the government that are pushing to make the law a permanent one. What is the extent that the filtering technology could reach into our communications online? What is the extent that information and ideas could be censored by those that prefer social engineering to free speech?
Who knows what intentions were with Enrico Fermi when he achieved the first nuclear chain reaction? Did he have visions of cheap energy for everyone or the destructive power it could harness in weapons? There are enough nuclear weapons in the world to destroy our planet a few times. We own most of them. Is that what Enrico Fermi envisioned when he achieved that advancement in technology?
Comparing Fermi’s work with the technological advancement of filtering technology is a bit heavy handed, but I think there is relevance in the thought. It’s not the technological advancement that is dangerous. The possible trouble lies in how the advancement is used.
I don’t want people spying on my communications for no good reason.
I don’t want anyone deciding what can and can’t be said on the Internet.
I support copyrighted material being protected, but I worry about the other uses of the technology and the future landscape of the Internet.