by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371)
Spain is now added to the growing list of countries attempting to put the free internet genie back in the bottle. Many scoff at such attempts and repeat tired old platitudes from the early 1990s about how the internet routes around censorship, etc. But what they forget is that in the last 10, and particularly in the last 5 years, the internet has changed. Drastically. An unfree web is closer now than at any time in the history of the network.
Several developments have lead us to this point. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, was the development of the Great Firewall of China. The apparatus designed, developed and implemented by the Chinese communist party has conclusively proven that the internet can be controlled, filtered and censored on a massive scale. The technologies developed for its implementation, largely by western companies, are now being sold back to western governments with much the same task in mind. While the wall is not airtight, it does offer the governments the level of control they once enjoyed over traditional media like books and newspapers. As a mass medium, the internet can be successfully centered.
Secondly, the internet has become more centralised. Despite the hype behind Web 2.0, the majority of new internet technologies and sites are controlled by a smaller number of huge companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, etc. What's your hompage right now, and how do you find your way to sites? This is in stark contrast to the very early days of the web, or even the 1990s, where there were no search engines, and the only meeting places were on irc. People now store most, if not all, of their private information on the servers, the "clouds", of big companies, so all that is needed to gain large awareness on the net is control of this relatively small number of private interests.
Thirdly, the vast majority of internet users are now technically unsavvy. Combined with the increasing complexity of website and protocols, this means that the network has become and ever more inscrutable blackbox, and most users will be unaware of any censorship efforts or implementations; that is, where they are not completely apathetic. Whereas in the past, netziens were more likely to spot, and indeed protest at censorship, nowadays most users simply will not care as long as their webmail and social networking accounts are unaffected. Governments can site this apathy as justification, and indeed have.
The Web has changed. We're going to see more and more Governments implementing acts like these. It's in the interests of all big players to shape the internet into a controllable mass medium and that's why they're going to keep pushing these laws, worldwide, until they achieve that goal. In ten years times, earlier times will be looked back on as anarchy by all but a few idealists, who will be looked on as hippies or cranks.