By itself, your computer doesn’t care whether you’re sending baby pictures or phone calls over the Internet. It has to be carefully taught which kinds of content to censor and toll. Today, the back end of the Internet is being clogged with toll booths, as a result of court rulings and a captive FCC that refuses to call ISPs and backbone providers common carriers.
The arrival of pay-to-play on the Internet wasn’t inevitable in and of itself — it has been a side effect of vertical integration between content producers, distributors, and last-mile data pipes. If I had been born the heir to a Hollywood media empire, I could rejoice this week at my continued corner on the market. Instead, I’m forced to ask why our society allows 5 corruptible people to decide everything about communications policy for between 0.3 to 7 billion others.