The Internet is a fragile thing… this assertion is constantly being evidenced by legislation that eats away at the freedom of speech under the guise of anti-piracy measures, and in lesser socially developed countries where governments are able to prevent access at whim.
This post basically consists of my thoughts on the subject, and a rather inconclusive and biased look at the situation from a spectator.
The Internet is held as a free space, a place where thoughts can be transmitted instantly and freely to anyone else connected. Except that is slightly naïve, as soon as the data leaves my computer it passes over a whole range of different pieces of hardware and many different jurisdictions before it gets to its destination.
I don't see how that arrangement can ever be free, and in my mind it's great trying to fight for that, but corporations, governments ultimately will stop things they don't like. If you don't own the stuff in the middle you are always going to be at the mercy of a third party.
From the technical standpoint of a networking nerd, here's a little test. The output below shows how many different devices ("routers") there are between me and a website hosted in the US (I picked it because it is actually hosted in the US, websites like Google and reddit have servers close to you that respond to make them load faster).
Tracing route to asmallorange.com 1 <1 ms <1 ms 1 ms 192.168.1.1 2 1 ms <1 ms <1 ms gw.customer.westone.resi.lan 3 <1 ms 1 ms 1 ms gw-107.shef-mlx.w1.ask4.net 4 4 ms 5 ms 13 ms lon-xmr-10ge.w1-the.core.ask4.net 5 5 ms 6 ms 4 ms bbr01.lon01.networklayer.com 6 82 ms 82 ms 82 ms ae1.bbr02.tl01.nyc01.networklayer.com 7 * * * Request timed out. 8 * * * Request timed out. 9 126 ms 128 ms 128 ms ae6.dar02.sr01.dal05.networklayer.com 10 124 ms 124 ms 169 ms po2.fcr01.sr01.dal05.networklayer.com 11 119 ms 122 ms 123 ms asmallorange.com
The above shows that there are 9 devices between me and them- any one of them could be either logging my requests or filtering them. This is the current situation for everyone everwhere, and it means that my gateway to the Internet is completely out of my control.
Technology will get fast and powerful enough that we can build our own "Internets" using our own devices. Devices which we solely own, and can cut out all of the middle bullshit. Think peer to peer, but on a grand scale. That would be truly free, and would be something governments and corporations would fear and try to stop, but an amazing prospect nonetheless.
It's not a completely absurd idea either, WiMAX offers a way to connect to devices wirelessly at ranges of up to 50 kilometers at speeds faster than the typical home router's WiFi access point.
I don't know what I'm trying to say. I think that the situation right now is as good as we're going to get it. It needs to be protected, but we don't control enough of what we use to have a big say in that. I think if more people understood how fragile this freedom we've got is and acted accordingly, we could retain it.
However most of us are easily swayed by political rhetoric and fear mongering, so actually getting things acted upon is extremely hard.