Who should I trust to use free internet?

I have enjoyed the freedom offered by internet from 1996. was it really free in 1996? IMSc was paying bills and I was using the same for free. Who is responsible for internet freedom? Should it be be the government or other stake holders on internet?

Let us consider Wikileaks to start with. When the call was made by White House, all internet stakeholders even Amazon’s web hosting service dropped its hosting of Wikileaks mirror sites. Every DNS.net took the drastic step of taking suspending the wikileaks.org domain. So there is a shadow network of Internet stakeholders with power to act according to its own rules and sense of norms – even when the government was still unclear on whether the information should be censored.

The truth is that internet is always regulated by someone – if not the government then the Internet companies themselves. The Internet is not “free” just because we do not regulate it by law. Who are the Internet stakeholders with power in addition to the  government?

  • Media & Entertainment companies & File Sharing sites
  • Internet service Providers.
  • Social Networking companies like Google, Facebook.

Media & Entertainment companies & File Sharing sites: Last few days, our clients were not been able to watch legal videos that we have uploaded to vimeo. A Chennai entertainment companies in the country wanted to block pirated copy of the movie to be released on internet and the private companies did not prevent the same and the Court decided that the entire site be blocked. This leaves the internet crippled, fragmented, and distorted.  Do we demand internet freedom only from the government ? Are we happy with blockages due to actions of private business? No. Sad that my freedom to use internet is lost  to safeguard the business needs and none takes responsibility to ensure internet freedom with infringing in other legal areas.

Internet service Providers. ISP is first touch point as end user (public),  to access internet. ISP does not actually own the internet. It is similar to extracting minerals from earth. They do not own the mineral, but charge people to provide the mineral in form to consume.

  1.  What are rights of an ordinary internet user?
  2. What is liability on the ISPs blocking the websites that have a set of agreements with the end user (including file sharing websites)?  What happens to user rights when the user pays for the service and ISP blocks?
  3. Can ISP be allowed to  lure customers with attractive downloading plans and then block all such services arbitrarily?
  4. Let the site have illegitimate content. Can the ISP impose a total ban on the site and ignore the rights of the legitimate users?
  5. Lastly, how do you protect the rights of content creators without infringing the legitimate rights of the general internet user?

There seems be instances where my rights are compromised.  Does end user understand freedom with respect  to  ISP? Why do they block vimeo and not YouTube? Can some one not post illegal video on YouTube?

Social Networking companies like Google, Facebook:   These companies offer free services over internet for you to share the data about yourself. In addition, they have build advertisement network based on public information. The advertisements pay to organize the unorganized information in a specific structure which is offered as service to users and money comes from viewing information, irrespective of whether it is legal or illegal, right or wrong

To identify content and block illegal content, the burdens and costs of censorship falls on the shoulders of private internet companies. I feel at times they might be concerned about the expense more than the internet freedom? .  The way data is structured and distributed  in cloud makes it tricky and costlier for them to block content that is illegal. Will these business  take the cost of censorship and perform their duties responsibly? Will they make use of their right to free internet only and have no sense of duty  towards internet usage?.

  • Would it be okay for some one to write about a girl in wrong way? Are you okay for sale of obscene materials to minors?
  • Would be be fine for the individual to be represented wrongly by another person on the internet who depicts a wrong online image of the individual?
  • Would he be okay for internet to spew hatred and incite violence against the innocent?

My stand:

  • While I cheer on right to use free internet, I also have no false hopes that my interests on the Net can be best guaranteed by the likes of Google or Wikipedia or Facebook.?
  • Should a father wait to get dirty things about his daughter to be removed from Facebook? It the answer is “Yes”, I agree with the Supreme Court with a clear stand. “If the global companies do not come with a suitable system in place to filter offensive content they could be banned in total”.