Episode

7/11 How We Lost Control Of The Internet w/ Ben Tarnoff

July 11, 2022

Sam and Emma host Ben Tarnoff, co-founder of Logic Magazine, to discuss his recent book Internet for the People: The Fight For Our Digital Future. First, however, Sam and Emma discuss  Biden’s ever-falling polling numbers, COVID’s new variants, and Biden’s announcement that his admin doesn’t care for pro-choice activists because what they want (abortion access) isn’t what the Democratic party wants. Ben Tarnoff then joins as they dive right into what the internet exactly is, tracking its birth from a pentagon protocol language in the 1970s, through its slow opening up to academia, and into its greater civilianization during the 1990s, exploring the privatization of this era as the National Science Foundation began to shut down its core infrastructure and the government shifts control over this central infrastructure entirely to telecom corporations. Tarnoff then discusses what this privatization actually looked like (rather than the privatization of more physical infrastructure), and analyzes the alternatives of greater public control that were presented at the time, why they were promptly stamped out by the telecoms lobby, and what a core system operated by and for the public would allow in terms of a democratize internet. Next, they get into a deeper conversation on the role of intellectual property in erecting wall gardens around the internet, with folks like Bill Gates leading a fight against the open-source ethics of the early internet and ensuring the only opportunities were privatized one, and why offering a diverse array of open source options for using the internet is necessary for building an accessible area of the internet that isn’t driven by the profit motive. Wrapping up the interview, they expand on the roles of the profit motive and competition in crippling internet access for marginalized communities, and why anti-trust, despite being an important step, seeks to make markets better rather than make sure that they do not matter, and thus cannot be a stand-alone option.

And in the Fun Half: Sam and Emma take a call from a Michigan organizer on the importance of OTG work for state and local elections, particularly with redistricting giving the Democrats a good chance of picking up a seat in the senate, Herschel Walker explores the meteorological pressure systems of “good” and “bad” air, and the crew recaps Tucker Carlson and Glenn Greenwald’s preview of the “vicious fight” against Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover that now has Twitter taking him to court… so that he’ll actually follow through with his bid. Josh from Chicago explores last weekend’s shooting from the perspective of a Highland Park local, Dave from Jamaica discusses breaking Democratic leadership’s obsession with norms, and Jane Doe from the East Coasts offers a warning story of the horrors of inaccessible reproductive care. Donald Trump colludes – I mean CONCLUDES a speech by taking a load off of his supporters’ chests (by load I mean shirt), and Kamala Harris situates the instability of our situation and how to stabilize and situate our current instability. Brandon from Canada talks government, plus, your calls and IMs!
Check out Ben’s book here: https://www.versobooks.com/books/3927-internet-for-the-people

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