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Internet Extinction

Turkey banned Twitter. Then they threatened Facebook and YouTube could be next. Their president proudly proclaimed “we eradicated Twitter”. 

Are we granted the internet? Or can we take it for granted?

The internet is a gift to humanity. Its made us infinitely more resourceful. Its the voice of the voiceless. Those who crave an alternate view now have a way to get it. Never in history have we had a mechanism to make the world such a smaller and bigger place at the same time. It’s touching everyone – much of the developing world has skipped desktop computers and graduated directly to smart phones.

But what can be said for citizens living in countries where the internet is heavily censored. 
No one can dispute that different populations need varying styles of government. Many would argue that the absence or censorship of the internet is a necessary evil in many scenarios. These governments may look at things like cyber-bulling, Occupy Wall Street, London riots, Wiki Leaks and breathe a sigh of relief that they have some control over the internet.

Much of the Western world would argue that the internet should always be free and uncensored. This is because the internet just speeds up the inevitable. It was inevitable in Egypt that Hosni Mubarak’s government would be toppled, despite his attempts to pull Egypt from the internet gateway prior to his ousting. We saw much of the same elsewhere in the Arab spring, with Twitter and Facebook playing a key role. Turkey’s prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan banned Twitter while he navigated through a corruption enquiry uncomfortably close to the next Turkish election. It was met by fierce opposition throughout Turkey, even from people as close to Erdogan as Turkey’s President. 

All this happens in the backdrop of Barack Obama signing over control of domain names to a global consortium, that includes censorship heavy countries like China.

Michelle Obama and her daughters recently braved smog to scale the Great Wall of China. China’s “Great Firewall” is the real wall much of corporate America’s powerhouses like Microsoft, Google and Facebook are trying to scale. I think its a useful metaphor for the unknown challenges the West will face as the internet approaches its half century. 

Over decades, dwindling natural resources can make even good governments do bad things. There’s no telling how governments could react when products like bitcoin may eventually threaten monetary systems and create side economies.


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