The recent events in countries like Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and several other places have once more reminded us why the Internet is such a game changer. It facilitates the flow of information and mass communication to levels unprecedented in history. It is organic, and in most cases, independent of national interests. It circumvents the traditional, official channels of information.
With a global network where information can spread from even the smallest source, where voices can be heard that never stood a chance going through official channels, we have reached a new era of openness and transparency. This is something we should treasure.
There is a reason why Egypt and then Libya closed off their countries from the Internet when the protests started. It was to restrict information, both to and from the protesters, and to and from the rest of the world, a desperate attempt from regimes that had lost control.
These countries lost control because they could no longer control the flow of information. Any totalitarian regime is dependent on this control. The ultimate dystopian vision of this was George Orwell’s 1984, still relevant today, but real-world examples like North Korea are not far away from that fictional example.
This is why any attempt to regulate and limit the Internet, no matter how well intentioned, is something we should all resist. Because it is all too easy that this will slowly erode what is so great about the Internet today.
A free Internet, by its very nature, counteracts any attempt to limit and control the flow of information. The Internet is a “one-to-many” communication medium like no other. Once information reaches the Internet, it can no longer be contained.
So, with emphasis: If your country is trying to limit or regulate the Internet, to work against the net neutrality concept, be wary, don’t just go along with it. Even seemingly innocent restrictions could very well be the first step down a slippery slope.
You don’t want to go down that road. Educate yourself. Make your voice heard to your elected officials. Protest. Make noise.
And use the Internet to do so, while you can.