Sarkozy's Attempt To Woo The Digerati Foreshadows The Coming Conflict Between Technology & Regulations
from the but-what-happens-next dept
We're seeing more and more stories of government attempts to exert greater control over the internet. While governments have been seeking such control for quite some time, we're finally seeing some real movement here, and I have no doubt that the pace and intensity of such efforts is only going to increase. The results of the e-G8 are not at all surprising. The politicians approached it as politicians do: looking to plead their case and create an atmosphere of political trade-offs, but many of the digerati tend not to work that way (which is why they tend to avoid policy and political debates altogether). They're not interested in tradeoffs, and that leads to a pretty serious culture clash, which is what we're seeing.
That's why this is going to get worse before it gets better. Governments are going to increase these kinds of efforts, and they're going to have significant legislative successes. There are two reasons for that. First, most elected officials don't really understand technology, and don't recognize the impact and the unintended consequences of what they're doing. They think that they're attacking "problems" online, or "bringing order" where there was chaos. They're not. Second, many large legacy companies, who are past their innovation stages, are equally frightened of the disruptions the internet has created. These are also the firms with the biggest lobbying budgets and most connections within the government. So they see this as an opportunity not to bring order to chaos (even if they claim such), but to stifle innovation and competition that might challenge their market position.
And there's no doubt that this combination of factors will win in the short term. It's hard to see what could stop them at this point.
The long term is a different situation however. As we've seen, the technologically literate recognize that such regulations are, effectively, technology problems, and what barriers the regulators and the dinosaur companies put up are simply challenges to be coded around. We're already starting to see some of that in efforts towards more distributed systems, and I would bet those will only increase rapidly over the next few years. These kinds of things take time -- and many will mock these early projects as not being very good or successful (and they won't be).
But, over time, you cannot deny what technology allows. Technology will prevail and make the regulations obsolete. The only real question is what kind of timeframe we're talking about. I'm hopeful that this confrontation is short, but I fear that it will be long.