"Internet for the People" by Ben Tarnoff

Review by Borodutch

Yet another title that bamboozled me. I was going for "An Internet for the People" on Craigslist, but I ended up here. Although this wasn't the book I wanted, I immensely enjoyed it.

The author presents a straightforward narrative: why do we allow a group of companies to privatize the Internet funded by public money and developed for public use? See, the Internet was designed with the help of a considerable amount of public capital invested — no single private company would be able to achieve the same. Protocols, infrastructure, hardware, software — everything from the ground up was built with public money.

However, somewhere along the way, a handful of corporations were able to privatize the infrastructure. Now, they can charge whatever they want to charge the public to use the asset built by the public. Even worse than that, having control over the Internet bottlenecks allows these corporations to influence public opinion and politics significantly. These corporations have literally "occupied" the Internet — and the people using it.

So what do we do with this? I'm a proponent of mandating these corporations to provide access to publicly funded infrastructure for free or subsidized by the government. Like public health, access to information should be financed by taxes. It is such a crucial cornerstone of education that if you limit access to the Internet in any way, you get worse-off citizens.

The access to the Internet, like the access to clean water, must become a human right. It is complex and politically challenging to make this happen. Still, as a society, we all must gather together to ensure net neutrality and other legislations to equalize access to information.