Digital Blowback
The Man Who Lost the Internet
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  • Guest

    Why is it even desirable that the United States to be somehow in control of the internet–that it is something we can “lose”–especially in terms of privacy issues. It should have been an international regime from the beginning and the developments Mead breathlessly relates here are, on the whole, beneficial. It is true Obama has continued many surveillance policies of his predecessors–which is regrettable–but that doesn’t make him some unique presidential miscreant. Also, it is depressing–and indicative of the degradation of political discourse in the country–that a man of Mead’s intellect has to end with such a puerile invocation of the “MSM” (as if he is a marginal media figure himself) and the non-existent ideas/metaphors of made-up Obama supporters.

    • Kavanna

      The US hasn’t “controlled” the Internet except in narrow technical ways. But it has provided a strong blocking force against attempts to stop free speech and make access more difficult and expensive. What the EU and Brazil want is less competition and openness, more diktats over Internet standards, and so on. And we haven’t even gotten into what China or Iran would like.

      The overtly political aspect matters less than you might think, apart from the immense embarrassment that it has cost Obama (yet another important trend that the US media carefully ignores in its desperate attempt to protect him). The EU, at least in its present form, will probably not exist in 10 years, and Brazil’s star is on the wane. The real price is the end-users’ unease and growing mistrust of the dominance of the Internet by US-based companies that are subject to secret NSA policies. Other governments aren’t creating this; it’s just happening.

      And no, it’s not just a continuation of Bush or Clinton’s policies. The NSA electronic communication surveillance was radically expanded in 2009, after Obama took office. The earlier policies were much narrower and conformed, as far as we know, with existing US law. The dangerous precedent those presidents set was making secret even the general policy governing these programs, so that Congress or the public can’t even see and judge that. Thus, a later president, operating in secret with a much more ambitious agenda of spying, could change the policy itself without anyone outside small circle knowing about it.

      (Don’t make me give my MSM lecture: it starts with the New York Times, which most US media outlets slavishly follow. There’s much less variety of journalism and viewpoints today in the US media than even 20 years ago.)

  • Andrew Allison

    A poor analogy. Nobody except Fat Albert thinks he gave us the internet (although he did contribute mightily to the AGW scam)!

  • ibehester

    Why is it even desirable that the United States be somehow in control of the internet (if that even makes sense as a premise)–that it is something we can “lose?” Privacy issues for such a border-crossing technology should have been under control of an international regime from the beginning. The developments Mead breathlessly relates here are, on the whole, beneficial. It is true Obama has continued many surveillance policies of his predecessors–which is regrettable–but that doesn’t make him some unique presidential miscreant. Also, it is depressing–and indicative of the degradation of political discourse in the country–that a man of Mead’s intellect has to end with such a puerile invocation of the “MSM” (as if he is a marginal media figure himself) and the non-existent ideas/metaphors of made-up Obama supporters.

    • mgoodfel

      My impression is that U.S. “control” of the internet so far has been mostly related to issuing domain name suffixes (like “.com”) and IP addresses. We’ve also avoided any censorship protocols, taxes on the net, or automatic payments to the legacy content industries. And it’s been a more or less borderless network, moving data around without regard to different legal systems.

      If ITU or the EU or third world governments have a say in these issues, look for it to get a lot more political, expensive and less free. And when the next innovative disruption comes along, look for these new managers of the net to argue against anything that takes away their power.

    • Corlyss

      “Privacy issues for such a border-crossing technology should have been under control of an international regime from the beginning.”
      If I didn’t suspect your remarks of terminal naiveté, I’d laugh out loud at such a fatuous proposition. Name something the “international community” has ever been able to manage without screwing it up so badly that it becomes both a tragedy and a laughing stock. Just one. I’m not overly demanding . . .

      • TommyTwo

        There are those so obsessed by the mote in their eye that they cannot, will not, see the beam in others’ eyes.

      • Guest

        And I suppose we are to forget that this administration led opposition to the 2012 ITC–and that the treaty is nugatory as a result? 55 countries, including America’s closest allies, didn’t sign.

      • ibehester

        And I suppose we are to forget that this administration led opposition to the 2012 ITR–and that the treaty is nugatory as a result? 55 countries, including America’s closest allies, didn’t sign.

  • gabrielsyme

    I do hope WRM is making notes for the definitive history of the Obama administration’s foreign policy misadventures. There certainly is a fascinating dynamic of high hopes wrecked by experience, of delusion and grandeur, along with a reasonably interesting supporting cast of Hillary and Kerry domestically and people like Putin, Sarkozy and Abe abroad.

    • Kavanna

      It would be an entertaining movie, if it weren’t real and happening to us, in real time.

    • Corlyss

      Not likely. Nobody will note nor long remember what WRM and his graduate minions say in a blog. But if he tried to put out an in-depth study of the Obama coc*k-ups this early, it wouldn’t be regarded seriously.

      • gabrielsyme

        Making notes, I said, not publishing a book immediately. 2018 might be a good date for a release. Though ideally you’d like to have greater historical perspective, it’s also important to have your say while impressions are still being formed.

  • Kavanna

    I’ll be not so kind, right now. The US media is a disgrace and getting worse every year. But with plenty of “low-information” voters out there (AKA “dumbasses”), many aren’t noticing as their country slips away into history.

  • qet

    I dunno, this seems of a piece with the general Zeitgeist of this Administration, which has always been to reduce America’s world profile. The Administration is not so much tearing America down as abandoning it, walking away from it, so that eventually we’ll resemble one of those once proud, now dilapidated Detroit houses.

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