Monday, December 29, 2008

The Internet is Us.

I was reading about the Australian Internet filter and the free speech arguments against it, and I realized that the days of free speech on the Internet are numbered.

The more we do on the Internet and the more it becomes a necessary and even integrated part of our lives, the greater the likelihood that governments will treat it like a physical location, like a street.

There are laws against what you can't do on the street. You can't walk your dog naked (tell me Florida, who was I hurting?!); you can't have a strip club or liquor store too near a school; you can't throw stuff at people from a speeding car... lots of stuff is illegal.

Governments can limit access to roads or require licenses for how we travel them.

It's like anything; the government might step in and say what can't be available on the Internet. First it's okay for a person to walk his dog barefoot, then maybe shirtless, but as soon as the pants come off, it's suddenly everybody's business what I do with my life.

People can protest all they want, but they will lose. The roads have stop signs and traffic lights and sidewalks and painted yellow lines to keep us all moving smoothly through traffic. And right now, the Internet is a dirt road with bulldozers and stream rollers perched on the horizon waiting to flatten the ground and pave roads. And we won't have any control over which direction we can go. Try driving your car on the sidewalk in any major city today and see what happens to you.

The government is going to filter the Internet for our own good because we have no self control. Because the Internet is us, and we are naked.