Internet at the (slow) speed of life
For years, it felt like the internet gave us superpowers. Freed from the shackles of ordinary life, we could do things faster and more efficiently, and with almost anyone in the world that we wanted to.
Legislation has gradually caught up with the internet age, and we’ve now reached the point where the hippy idealism of internet pioneers has finally been snuffed out.
In the USA, net neutrality is dead, meaning big corporations can buy their way to priority service from the small cabal of big ISPs. And now the US Supreme Court has ruled
that states can collect sales tax from online retailers. This could harm thousands of small e-commerce outfits and part-time sellers. Big retailers will probably be fine.
In Europe, the proposed new copyright rules threaten to stop the viral spreading of culture through memes, in the name of killing piracy.
Not all of these laws are awful. GDPR may be messily implemented right now, but its heart is in the right place.
These examples, for all their good and bad points, have the side effect of making the internet more complicated and less ‘free.’ The internet is slowing down to the pace of normal life. It’s not losing its wings, but it is having them clipped.
As countries take differing approaches to issues like data privacy and copyright control, we’re likely to see the internet divided into regional buckets. Companies will have to rethink their service to offer it in each region, and we’ll end up with a balkanised internet offering little of the freedoms with knew up to now.
I’ll miss my superpowers.