Thursday, February 26, 2015

Today Is The Day That The Internet Changed

You can mark it on your calendar. Go ahead, circle today in red ink. Today is the day that the internet changed. The world wide web will no longer be the same.

The United States of America's federal government, through the executive branch, by the means of the Federal Communications Commission, will begin to regulate the internet. No one knows exactly what that means, but there are a few guesses that we can make that time will likely prove true.
The Compaq Desert - Mojave, California
First, as with any regulation, there will be new taxes. The growing FCC will need to pay for new employees and new systems to run this new division. It's not going to pay for itself. The internet users will be made to pay for it. My guess would be that companies who do business via the web will be charged a fee, and of course (like every business) that fee will be passed on to the consumer via higher price tags.

The consumers might also be directly taxed, but I'm not sure how likely that is. Governments like to hide taxes. For example, in California, a new tax on gas went into effect on January 1st, but because the tax was on the gas companies and not at the pump, not many noticed it. But those paying close attention realized that the consumer is still paying the tax because gas stations have passed it along to them via higher prices.

Second, I think free internet will be a thing of the past. I think at some point free WiFi will go away. Free websites like this will go away. Google (through Blogger) gives me this space for free. If I had to pay for it The Roesch Photography Blog (and also The Urban Exploration Photography Blog) wouldn't exist. I give away for free my thoughts and opinions. Nobody pays me. But I'm not going to pay money to share my intellectual property. My only hope is in point three, which is a two-edged sword.

Third, companies will try to get special waivers from some of the regulations. If Google manages to get a waiver, freeing them of some of the taxes and regulations, then perhaps they can keep Blogger free. But with exemptions come expectations. The FCC is going to expect something in return. It might be political support, financially or otherwise. It might be in censorship. There will be a price for Google to pay if they choose that path.

And why wouldn't they choose that path? The chance to get an advantage over competition is a no-brainer. If Google gets the waiver and some other company doesn't, Google wins by default. It only makes sense to play the game that's handed to you, even if you don't like the game.

Next, with regulation comes thought police. If the FCC disagrees with what you put on the web, they will have the ability to shut it down. I doubt that is much of a worry for a photography blog, but even a post like this could potentially be red-flagged. I think censorship is most certainly on the horizon, and politicians (and others with power) will somehow find a way to use it to their advantage.
Classic Television Set - Rosamond, California
Finally, I think TV will also be affected by this. Companies like Netflix will have something coming their way, no doubt. But not just them--all television, which, anymore, travels over the web at some point, will have some sort of impact. Just how much is completely unknown.

Now it will take time for all of this to happen. I doubt much of anything changes in the next year. It will likely be five years before everything gets rolled out. And it will surely be rolled out in small bits so that it's not really noticed.

What's amazing to me about all of this is that three non-elected government employees are the ones with the authority to make these vast changes. I would say that this is taxation without representation, but they were hired and given this power by an elected official.
Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining - Tehachapi, California
Now every cloud has a silver lining, and if there is one in this it is that perhaps the internet will get cleaned up. There is a lot of absolute filthy garbage on the web. Maybe, just maybe, some of that will go away. And perhaps some of the criminal activity that happens on the internet will also be stopped. While I certainly hope this happens, I have my doubts because these kinds of people seem to always find some sort of loophole. They may have to change how they do what they do, but in all likelihood they'll continue doing it.

Today is the day that the internet changed. There might be some good (let's all hope that there is some good), but there most certainly will be some bad. Thankfully, there is still some time before any noticeable changes come.

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