Somebody’s Watching You: The Internet as Big Brother

The irony is not lost on me that I’m writing a story about the Internet on the Internet. These days it’s par for the course if you want to be seen or heard, but in a world where virtually every single person with a computer has the ability to broadcast whatever they want, and seem to enjoy doing so, don’t think for one second that corporations and government aren’t taking advantage of this.

Someone’s Always Watching

Call it Big Brother, the Illuminati, the Bilderberg Group, or the Mark of the Beast, but there’s no denying the fact that as corporations like Facebook, Google, and Amazon, continue to skirt the issue when it comes to our privacy, the Internet is continuing to position itself in terms of watching every move you make, and not in a cool 80’s song kind of way, either.

Of course, you may be asking yourself why I’m speaking of the Internet as its own entity. That’s because it is. Let’s face it; when you have a globally distributed network that seems to have no governing body, eventually it’s going to take on a life of its own, and since the mid-nineties, that’s exactly what the Internet has been doing. I say that it “seems” to have no governing body, but guess what? It does. Not in the way you might think, but it’s there, watching you.

ICANN

Created on September 18, 1998, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is responsible for managing the assignment of domain names and IP addresses all across the World Wide Web. Based out of Marina Del Ray, California, they’re tasked with IP address space allocation, protocol identifier, top-level domain name system management, and root server system management functions. Although purported to be a non-profit organization, ICANN has its roots in government, and lord knows that anything government is never non-profit.

Spanning both the presidencies of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, ICANN’s original mandate came from the U.S. Government by way of the National Telecommunication and Information Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. They have a board, stakeholders, and advisory committees, one of which is the Governmental Advisory Committee, a group that is comprised of representatives from governments all over the world. Hell, they even hold public meetings, but they just rotate where they hold them every year, and often it’s in countries with lower Internet usage. Go figure.

There was once even talk of the United Nations taking over ICANN, but this was met with resistance from the United States government, so at the World Summit of the Information Society in 2005, the United Nations backed down. Instead, they instituted the Internet Governance Forum, which acts as a consultant role when it comes to future governing of the Internet.

Call me crazy, but an organization such as ICANN, that can issue Enforcement Notices, which has its roots in government, has government connections, and is able to access information on every person that has ever registered a domain, seems far more ominous to me than Facebook or Google. With ICANN’s pool able to be swam in by world governments, don’t you think that they’d take advantage of that in some way? I mean, it’s the government for crying out loud. Think about it.

So while you’re worrying about websites like Facebook sharing your information with other corporations, just remember that the Internet goes way deeper than a social networking site. Corporations have their hands in government, and vice versa. It’s not 1984 any longer, it’s the dawning of a new technological age, and yes, the revolution will be digital.