Controlling the Internet

The role of a government is basically to act like the responsible parent to the millions of unruly children.

Published: 23rd January 2012 12:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:20 PM   |  A+A-

Dear Dr K,

Why are governments suddenly hell-bent on controlling the Internet?

Sopa Pipa

Dear Sopa,

The role of a government is basically to act like the responsible parent to the millions of unruly children. In a totalitarian regime, the children are more prone to violent bouts of unruliness, so it’s perhaps best not to give them too much freedom.

You will understand this better when you have children of your own: you don’t want to take your bratty kids to a fancy dinner party all hyped up on sugar and coffee. In this case, the free and open Internet is the sugar and coffee, and the fancy dinner party is… the world, I guess?

This is harder to understand, however, when the parents are elected by the children. At this point the metaphor begins to break down because if there is one global truth it is that you cannot choose your parents (it is not a universal truth because I don’t know how extra-terrestrials do it and it would be unfair to presume it is the same for them).

In any case, despite the fact that we have, or our elders have, however ineffectively, chosen our government, the government still feels it is their duty to cover our eyes for the kissing scenes in the movies. And they are right to do so, don’t you think? Do you want the minds of a nation corrupted by the multitude of voices on the Internet? Would any responsible parent send a child into the vast and nefarious playground of the Internet without personally inspecting every swing and see-saw?

The one drawback of such an approach is that by the time the inspection is done, it’s closing time on the playground. No, that’s not quite right — the Internet is open 24x7. Let’s say then that the government wants to shut down the most exciting rides because the most exciting rides are somehow offensive to them and/or they are being paid not to let you go on those exciting rides.

The more I try to explain this using metaphor the less sense it seems to make. But that’s probably because the reason governments want to control the Internet itself doesn’t make much sense. They want to protect their own authority. Certainly at some point you’ve had the following argument with your parents, or something similar:

You: I want to go to Manjusha’s party!

Parent: No, you can’t.

You: Why not?

Parent: Because I said so.

You: But WHY? That’s not a reason.

Parent: I don’t like that Manjusha girl. I find her

offensive and/or possibly

a pirate.

You: But…

Parent: Don’t argue. This family is not a democracy.

Which is basically the same thing the government says, except our government is a democracy, but when you try telling them that they will ask you to shut up anyway.

Dear Dr K,

Why does everyone get so worked up every time this book called Satanic Verses is mentioned?

Malnas Shirdue

Dear Malnas,

I wish I knew. My parents don’t let me read the book. Do yours?

Yours questionably,

Dr K

Writer, deep thinker and

competitive sleeper

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