I haven’t posted in a while, and this will be the last for the foreseeable future. At its foundation, Third Pipe was focused on the promise of alternatives to the telco/cable chokehold on internet access. We evolved to report on issues of an open Internet, personal privacy, security and intellectual property.The shocking loss freedom as it relates to all of these topics have made reporting on new developments so consistently negative, that it’s time to take me and my partners a break . The archive and news feeds will remain online. New work here on a regular basis could resume in a more positive environment.
It’s worth noting that in the not too distant past, there were a plethora of Internet providers competing to provide service. The Internet began as a free and open frontier that was sufficiently self regulated. Hacks served to improve security. Existing laws regarding property both physical and intellectual worked surprisingly well when our so called protectors elected to apply them.
Over the last few years, government “internet regulation” has given itself the authority to peer into our lives in ways never imagined even by the most cynical of futurists. Under the guise of security, protecting American jobs and even the shameful claim of protecting children, the over reach continues. The new police state need not rely on nosy neighbors to keep the masses in line. The police state has been upgraded to a surveillance state. This has happened by stealth as major new outlets are only too happy to report an endless stream of distractions instead of informing us.
We have seen the access duopoly continue to evolve towards a new, less competitive duopoly, with cable controlling fixed line access and the telcos controlling wireless. We will like see telcos continue to abandon more of their fixed line customers, freeing the cable guys to do what they will with us. Wireless remains marginally competitive, but AT&T and Verizon are on a campaign to lock up all available spectrum. None of this could have happened without direct involvement of the government. To be clear, American internet access is not a product of free enterprise. It has become at best crony enterprise headed towards fascist enterprise.
Fascist enterprise has also overtaken intellectual property. While the Internet promised to set information free, those who profited from the control of intellectual property have sought and taken control of much of that freedom. The formerly common practice of loaning a book or recording to a friend has become criminalized and the common practice of moving media you have paid for from one device to another could get you in trouble. Even creatives who seek to give away their work are under threat. Government hates the free flow of information even more that the media oligarchs. The internet has made it much easier to expose disinformation and a plethora of other dirty deeds that have flowed freely from Washington without question in the past.
There is hope. The change we hoped for at the last election cycle has proven to be yet another grand ruse. A new cycle is upon us. Establishment pols are being challenged in party primaries at an unprecidented rate. To be clear. the establishment in both political parties is the problem. Their talking points are carefully constructed to distract us from our loss of freedom. We still have a vote, and the real point of change is in the primaries. Voting in a primary is the quickest way to unseat the establishment. Waiting to vote for establishment candidates in the general election will only perpetuate the existing way of doing business.
There is still hope in creating alternative access. Wifi could evolve to provide competing wireless service and municipalities can grant open access to or make use of existing right of ways for fixed service. Getting involved is the price to pay for this freedom.
Even if you prefer using commercial software and hardware products, supporting open source with time and cash will insure that the marketplace remains competitive. The same goes for creative works. You don’t have to boycott the blockbuster movie, music or written work to make an impact as long as you also support independent artists. In fact you could find it rewarding to do a little creating yourself. If we are all content creators, regulating the flow of ideas and information will be impossible for even the most intrusive government.
If and when the outlook becomes more positive, I’ll be back.