A Frightening Week

When something you have come to rely on is taken away from you, it is frightening.

This week, when I read that Egypt's government was able to completely turn off the Internet in country, it stunned me. The Internet was designed to be immune to such things.

I have come to accept the idea that I can skype with anyone anywhere in the world at any time as "the way it is." I have come to accept the idea that I can text message anyone with a cell phone anywhere in the world at any time as "the way it is." I have come to accept that I can check twitter and find out what is happening all over the world in real time as "the way it is."

Well it isn't exactly the way it is. And that is frightening to me.

My business interests are based on the availability of the wired and wireless Internet to everyone all over the world. Our firm has been active in working with the US government to make sure that continues to be the case in our country. We support net neutrality rules and oppose legislation such as COICA and the Internet Kill Switch.

But my business interests pale in comparison to my interests as a citizen of this world. When I think about being in a country that has no internet, no mobile phone service, and no international news on TV, it scares me. 

I suppose I am a "cyberutopian" at heart as Evgeny Morozov calls us. I believe in the power of technology, particularly communications technology powered by the internet, to make the world better, safer, and more open and free.

This past week has shown that the cyberutopian view is naive and that those who are not interested in a better, safer, more open and free world will use technology to further their interests too. 

So this has been a frightening week and one that shows that the fight for human rights all over the world will not be delivered a decisive win via the internet.