As we all know, our modern-day society is largely controlled by the internet. It’s where we do our research, how we are taking this class and submitting assignments, talking with our friends and family, managing our funds, and so much more. However, I don’t think I’ve ever stopped to think and realize how much of our internet is controlled and monitored.
After going through last week’s readings and learning materials, what was really shocking to me was learning how only a few tech giants control basically all of the internet. From Amazon to Google, Facebook, and Apple, it’s crazy to think that these powers have so much say over what is allowed online and what we see every day. This has of course led to the general public becoming more aware of their power and grow frustrated with these companies as there is almost that feeling of a digital “big brother” watching over all of us online. I think what bothered me even more than most things was the difference in how much we pay in the United States. On average, people in the United States spend around $61 on their internet bill. Let’s compare that to a few other countries: In Spain and Canada, the average cost is around $50-55, Greece and the UK are around $40, France and Italy are close to $30, and South Korea is only about $20 (https://www.broadbandsearch.net/blog/internet-costs-compared-worldwide). What makes these stats even more infuriating is that pretty much the only reason the United States is charging your more, is simply because they can. There is little to no competition for them around the world meaning they can really do what they want (https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2020/2/18/21126347/antitrust-monopolies-internet-telecommunications-cheerleading). In fact, I bet our internet bills could reach upwards of $80 if they really wanted to because who’s going to stop them?
Another topic that was really interesting to me was the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) because I felt like it relates to something I interact with almost every day, in the form of Twitch streams. Twitch.tv,(https://www.twitch.tv/) is a livestream service in which various influencers and content creators play video games, react to videos, or any other thing that you’d see on YouTube, just live. On these streams, creators have a live chat where viewers and or followers can interact with each other and the creator themselves and recently Twitch cracked down on what can be said on their website. Streamers and viewers alike have certain words that cannot be said and that will cause punishment such as a suspension or even ban on their account. The CFAA was really interesting to me especially due to its ambiguity because of the fact that streamers may not even realize they can be held accountable for the things their viewers say in their live streams. I personally feel as though they shouldn’t be in this position because there’s no way to know who will enter your stream on any given day and what people will say, and it really could come down to just getting unlucky for these creators. Of course, these streamers have moderators in their chat to limit any bad speech but still, even if someone gets banned or muted from commenting, who’s to say they won’t make another account and come back with more damaging speech. It’s a really tough situation and a law that I feel is much more important than it’s being treated. It should be made absolutely clear with no holes or gaps that could lead to confusion.