Caught in a Web

Sometimes I wonder why people in my surroundings are so little concerned about the current attempts of the governments to get a grip on the world wide web. Providing that it’s feasible. This is an opportunity for us all to partake in the formation of internet-ethics. But a majority stays silent, while speakers like Anonymous get punished. I feel quite uncanny about the whole thing.

I remember, years ago, that my final primary school teacher stood in front of the class, amazed about the possibilities of the net. ” You type in a word, and you get a whole list of answers to all your questions”. It took a few more years before we finally had it at home, but I did not start downloading until I had super-fast internet at my students’ residence. It has become very common among students to share files. Movies, music, books, but mostly porn.

In the 1950′s any decent host would offer his guests cigarettes in a bowl. Up till about ten years ago, it would have been impossible to get the anti-smoking law implemented in the Netherlands. Do you remember the commercials, where a girl took a drag and turned into an old wrinkled woman? Posters with smoke in the shape of a skull? They bent opinions. After a few decades of campaigning, implementing these laws went smoother than diarrhea. The anti-smokers got what they wanted.

When you buy a DVD today, you get an obligatory 1 minute about that piracy is stealing. It is not. If you download, copy the file, you don’t get to see any video. Those who pay get reassured. Are steered easily. So far, internet has been from the people. But will it remain this way? I suppose this ACTA law will fail now. But it would not surprise me if within ten years, we’ll see increased ads and increased punishments trying to adjust our moral towards “downloading is wrong”. We’ll resist at the start, but with enough repetition, we will start believing it and eventually fight in its favour.

Such mechanisms are among the main reasons why it is important that we keep freeing our minds. If we want to keep the internet, we might have to keep fighting for it. Internally. Keep the initiative close. Master ourselves and be grateful for what we have, or the freedom of this time might just slip through our fingers.

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