Special Interests Threaten the Net

By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2002-06-10

Most tech conferences are mainly selling something, whether it be products, services or a technology. The Connectivity conference was trying to sell the idea that the Nets future is in great danger from corporate and government interests and that action is needed before its too late.

All the sessions at Connectivity, which was held in Boston late last month, dealt with attempts by various special interests, whether it was telecom companies, government entities or the entertainment industry, to centralize control over some segment of the Internet. Of course, since most people believe that the main strength of the Internet is its decentralized architecture, this is a major problem.

Speakers and attendees ranged from lawyers to members of standards boards to industry representatives to regular IT users. While much of the focus was clearly on the social aspects of these threats, many of the sessions were very technical. One session, given by a member of the IETF, focused on the effects of many standards currently in the IETF. At another session, a former head of Nynex discussed the effect of the recent Supreme Court ruling against Verizon and its influence on how telecoms are trying to control Internet access.

The conference even included a panel on the future of music, consisting of a musician, a Webcaster and other industry insiders.

One thing that came out of all the sessions was the importance of learning about potential government or corporate threats early and taking effective, organized action against them.

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