Information is the backbone of our society and the Internet has become the definitive source on finding that information. What started out as a DARPA project has become the most sophisticated information archive and communication tool that we have on the planet. Considering that internet subscribers have exceeded 2 billion in March of 2011, the amount of information that they generate is staggering. Kirk Skaugen, the Vice-President of Intel’s Architecture group spoke at the Web 2.0 2011 summit with the following statistics (source):
- More data was transmitted in 2010 than entire Internet history up to 2009 = 245 exabytes (quintillion bytes)
- 48 hours of Youtube videos are uploaded every minute
- 200 million tweets per day
- 7.5 billion photos uploaded per month
- 4 billion connected devices
Because the face of communication is changing, governments around the world are trying to take steps to understand how the Internet is being used and whether some potential developments might cause instability within their country’s society. With the Arab Spring uprising (view this excellent historical timeline by Guardian UK) in the Middle East, the world has closely watched how governments handled their Internet access protocols. As expected, the Internet was cut off by many of the former dictatorships because social media was the major communication tool that coordinated the citizens’ revolutionary efforts.
We have seen this type of prohibitive action in many countries that monitor their people’s social activities. In the Reporters Without Borders report, Internet Enemies 2011, they listed 10 countries that were consistent Internet enemies: Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. The countries that were under surveillance include: Australia, Bahrain, Belarus, Egypt, Eritrea, France, Libya, Malaysia, Russia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. Although United States was not on that list, there has been increased legislative activity that is currently endangering Net Neutrality.
United States is now becoming a new focus of attention with the Occupy movements that are sweeping the country. In particular, New York and Oakland have been put under the microscope because of the issues of police brutality. Concerns have been raised to the tops of the government that the Internet and social media might be used to endanger the security of the nation, and prompted some seemingly draconian measures, though they are not consistent from city to city. But further proof seems to be coming from the exposure of two governmental actions.
Two Governmental Actions
1) HT3261 – Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)
Summary of HR3261: This bill would establish a system for taking down websites that the Justice Department determines to be “dedicated to infringing activities.” The DoJ or the copyright owner would be able to commence a legal action against any site they deem to have “only limited purpose or use other than infringement,” and the DoJ would be allowed to demand that search engines, social networking sites and domain name services block access to the targeted site. It would also make unauthorized web streaming of copyrighted content a felony with a possible penalty up to five years in prison. This bill combines two separate Senate bills – S.968 and S.978 – into one big House bill. (source: opencongress.org)
DSPGaming Alert commentary about HR3261: