The rules of the internet

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

"Big tech is bad!"

"Terrorists have assembled on social media!"

True and true.

I believe the internet in these times is a utility, alongside electricity, gas, and water. It's an essential service of modern life that should be made reasonably available to all. You would not likely purchase of home that didn't have running water. Why would you purchase one without a reliable internet connection?

With all the buzz regarding Twitter and Parler and policing baddies on social media, there's one thing to keep in mind. Private businesses (online and offline) can choose its customers as long as they do not discriminate on the basis of a protected characteristic. In political matters, this can be tricky because political belief is a protected characteristic in many parts of the world. What isn't tricky is when baddies are actually being bad. When people actively harm others, they cannot hide behind their protected characteristic.

But if the internet is a utility and it needs to be available to all, how is censorship okay? It is. Here's why. Tech companies, such as Amazon and Microsoft, alongside Twitter and Facebook and their peers, have an obligation to their stakeholders to operate under their defined ethical framework, whether you agree with this framework or not. This should outline what the organisation finds acceptable, along with how they wish to be perceived by others. This is different than an open internet.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is not obligated to provide hosting to anyone whose activities they find objectionable. This doesn't mean the internet is not open. It means that if AWS doesn't want to be associated with your activities, they are not obliged to. You can move on to another company that does not object to your intentions. If you make your way around from service to service and no one is willing to host you, it's likely more of an issue with your intentions, not theirs. These organisations want to make money. They need to make money. If they say no to you, it's likely for good reason, one that's bigger than profit.

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