Net Neutrality: Now cures all wickedness - and Loompa scurvy, too

The lynch mob and the FCC


Delicious news from the United States, where 'Net Neutrality' is again being recast for a new political purpose.

The term long since ceased to mean anything - it now means anything you want it to mean. But as a rule of thumb, advocating Neutrality means giving your support to general Goodness on the internets, and opposing general Badness. Therefore, supporting Neutrality means you yourself are a Good Person, by reflection, and people who oppose Neutrality are Bad People.

This is a wonderful thing, and the beauty is, it's all so simple. It's like the Good Guys Wearing White - the Bad Guys oppose Neutrality. And because Neutrality is anything you want it to be, you have an all-purpose morality firehose at your disposal. Just point it and shoot at Baddies.

But best of all is that you get to define the Baddies, raise a lynch mob, catch them and hang them - before somebody has had a chance to ask "Where's the harm, exactly?".

This time the accusation of Neutrality Violations is being turned on copyright holders, minority groups - and anyone who wants a network to run the way they want it to.

Rights for some, but not all

Now you may be thinking that it's strange that in an age when we keep being told that thanks to technology "we're all creators", creators' rights must go out of the window. Surely these digital rights should be being strengthened - as new sources of money are available to the talented, and as old middlemen melt away? Has a technology ever been invented that when allied to copyright, makes creators less independent, or poorer? Not until now.

But not everybody sees it this way. Copyright messes up the smooth running of the networks, it's a spanner in the machine-driven cybernetic utopia. It also costs network operators money - paying the pesky talent who create the stuff that generates the demand. And it's impossible for a machine to do: an algorithm is unable to spot and nurture creative talent, in the way a studio boss or a publisher or a label could find and nurture acting writing or performing talent. The machine can't compute that. And of course, the machine can't create art: when algorithms are set to write a composition (or when, say, Cory Doctorow attempts to create readable prose) you can tell instantly something is missing.

So Google's front groups such as Public Knowledge and FreePress - they fly under the flag of "citizens groups" or "consumer rights" groups, but are really two of Google's most potent arrows in its lobbying quiver - are now deploying the morality firehose on copyright.

Anyone policing the internets for copyright infringement will be violating neutrality, say the groups. Therefore it shouldn't be permitted. Presumably the same logic can be applied to policing the internets for anything: a paedophile "neutrality" maybe being violated somewhere - which would be awful.

It's economically and technically illiterate of course, just as you'd expect. Nobody at Public Knowledge or FreePress has ever done a day's honest toil at a business in their lives - their prejudices are evident. But the groups have also rolled out ethnic minorities, alarming them that without Neutrality, they'll be erased. The National Hispanic Media Coalition, for example, is standing right behind the Neutrality firehose.

But imagine these two examples.

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • North Korea pulled in $400m in cryptocurrency heists last year – report

    Plus: FIFA 22 players lose their identity and Texas gets phony QR codes

    In brief Thieves operating for the North Korean government made off with almost $400m in digicash last year in a concerted attack to steal and launder as much currency as they could.

    A report from blockchain biz Chainalysis found that attackers were going after investment houses and currency exchanges in a bid to purloin funds and send them back to the Glorious Leader's coffers. They then use mixing software to make masses of micropayments to new wallets, before consolidating them all again into a new account and moving the funds.

    Bitcoin used to be a top target but Ether is now the most stolen currency, say the researchers, accounting for 58 per cent of the funds filched. Bitcoin accounted for just 20 per cent, a fall of more than 50 per cent since 2019 - although part of the reason might be that they are now so valuable people are taking more care with them.

    Continue reading
  • Tesla Full Self-Driving videos prompt California's DMV to rethink policy on accidents

    Plus: AI systems can identify different chess players by their moves and more

    In brief California’s Department of Motor Vehicles said it’s “revisiting” its opinion of whether Tesla’s so-called Full Self-Driving feature needs more oversight after a series of videos demonstrate how the technology can be dangerous.

    “Recent software updates, videos showing dangerous use of that technology, open investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the opinions of other experts in this space,” have made the DMV think twice about Tesla, according to a letter sent to California’s Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), chair of the Senate’s transportation committee, and first reported by the LA Times.

    Tesla isn’t required to report the number of crashes to California’s DMV unlike other self-driving car companies like Waymo or Cruise because it operates at lower levels of autonomy and requires human supervision. But that may change after videos like drivers having to take over to avoid accidentally swerving into pedestrians crossing the road or failing to detect a truck in the middle of the road continue circulating.

    Continue reading
  • Alien life on Super-Earth can survive longer than us due to long-lasting protection from cosmic rays

    Laser experiments show their magnetic fields shielding their surfaces from radiation last longer

    Life on Super-Earths may have more time to develop and evolve, thanks to their long-lasting magnetic fields protecting them against harmful cosmic rays, according to new research published in Science.

    Space is a hazardous environment. Streams of charged particles traveling at very close to the speed of light, ejected from stars and distant galaxies, bombard planets. The intense radiation can strip atmospheres and cause oceans on planetary surfaces to dry up over time, leaving them arid and incapable of supporting habitable life. Cosmic rays, however, are deflected away from Earth, however, since it’s shielded by its magnetic field.

    Now, a team of researchers led by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) believe that Super-Earths - planets that are more massive than Earth but less than Neptune - may have magnetic fields too. Their defensive bubbles, in fact, are estimated to stay intact for longer than the one around Earth, meaning life on their surfaces will have more time to develop and survive.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022