Opinions

American binary commandos invade the Internet

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Merriam Webster declared "blog" the most looked-up word of 2004, evidencing the fact that everyone, their mom, and at least three of their four Pomeranian terriers have some form of marked interest in the Internet. But at what cost? It seems--as with their attitude to almost every other thing important to somebody somewhere in the world--the Americans have decided to be dicks about it.

The oft-criticized USA Patriot Act (which is actually a vomit-inducing acronym, look it up sometime) is the source of this most heinous crossing into the realms of dissentable dictates provided by our lovely quasi-autocratic southern neighbors.

Picture, if you will, signing up for an online journal though the university library--something you're apt to do once in your academic career--to look at information about, oh, say powerful chemical reagents. Only, it's not that easy anymore; if the info is hosted on an American server, the US Feds now have your personal information on file. This is bogus not only for the obvious reasons: if an exchange student in an American-embargoed country looks up anything the government deems suspect they could cost the university their membership to journals or possibly even their accreditation.

This ad-hoc e-tocracy is only the latest in a string of gems that put the United States under question as the Unimpeded Rulers of the Internet Foreverâ„¢, such as the recent disputes between the EU and the USA about who should control the allocation of IP addresses, a task currently assigned to Icann, an NPO under contract to the US Department of Commerce. The EU has even discussed the dissolution of the Internet into separate nets, proving once again how much humans can miss the point.

It's painfully obvious to those who haven't been living in space for the last 17 years that the Internet has transcended its original purpose as Military Tool Extraordinaire/Network to Keep The Man in Place. Correspondingly, maybe it's time for ol' pappy USA to let its "l'il Netty" go to become a man. A Man-ternet.

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