The Not So Global Internet

We’ve talked about this stuff before, but not lately. The promise of the Internet is you can connect a server to the Internet anywhere in the world and reach users anywhere in the world. You can login to the Internet anywhere in the world and reach services anywhere in the world. In reality it doesn’t work like that in many places for many services.

We are in the caribbean this week celebrating the year end holiday with friends and family. Yesterday we installed a VPN client so that the Gotham Gal could do some online shopping on a website that only sells to users in the US. We also installed a bittorrent client so that a friend of my son could watch films he had rented on iTunes before he came down here.

The latter experience was particularly frustrating. My son’s friend rented the films on iTunes in NYC, flew down here, then when he tried to play them, they would not play because of IP blocking, but the rental clock (24 hours) started ticking anyway and he lost the rental rights he had paid for.

So we installed a bittorrent client, downloaded the films, and watched them. We figured that my son’s friend had paid for them so we might as well watch them.

I’m not really down with spoofing my IP address or pirating films. I would way rather do things on the up and up on the Internet. But when companies break the Internet to enforce some random geography restriction, and when there are easy to use workarounds, it’s human nature to use them.

The worst thing about all of this, as I’ve blogged before, is that these restrictions teach us the workarounds. The Gotham Gal had never used a VPN before. My son’s friend didn’t have a bittorrent client on his computer. Now they are well versed in these technologies. That’s life on the Internet in late 2014. I’m hoping someday it won’t be like that.