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Archive for April 1st, 2019

Since the beginning of the internet, politicians have been trying to get control of it.  The idea of a vast landscape completely outside of their control, where people can associate with each other from thousands of kilometers away and even transact business anonymously, with cops being powerless to stop them or even spy on them very effectively, was obviously a terrifying nightmare to sociopathic control freaks whose entire lives revolve around telling others what to do and enforcing their arbitary diktats with threats of violence.  So naturally, an attempt to destroy it was made before most people had even heard of it, much less figured out how to access it; this was the Communications Decency Act of 1996, an attempt to turn the internet into a walled garden under Congressional control.  Large portions of the Act were so blatantly unconstitutional they were struck down the following year, and the only important section to survive was the one which had exactly the opposite effect the law was intended to have:  Section 230, which immunized websites from nuisance lawsuits and megalomaniacal prosecutors alike.  Naturally, both politicians and wannabe internet cops of all types couldn’t stand that, and have been trying to overturn that immunity ever since; after years of attempts, generally pretended to be about “THE CHILDREN!!!!!TM” and always dying before passage or being executed by judges in court (again, due to their blatant unconstitutionality), they finally succeeded with FOSTA just one year ago.

Longtime readers will recall that I’ve been sounding the alarm about these attempts since the beginning of this blog; as I wrote in “The Camel’s Nose” (October 2nd, 2010): “once Big Brother has the power to shut down big hunks of the internet for one specific purpose, does anyone honestly believe that he will only use that power for the stated purpose and no other?”  Whores understand only too well what useful idiots never do: that though surveillance, censorship, criminalization of consensual behavior and other such obscenities often start with whores, they never, ever stop with us.  I wasn’t even close to the only harlot warning that laws like FOSTA would destroy the internet as we know it, and basically every single civil liberties organization and internet company were saying exactly the same thing.  This broad opposition might have prevented disaster had Facebook not betrayed every internet user on the planet in order to curry favor with Congressional censors, but that was exactly what it did and I don’t think any regular reader needs an itemized list of the damage that has already been done as a result.  Until now, all the damage has been self-inflicted, as companies eagerly castrate and/or lobotomize temselves in order to avoid liability; however, that changed last week with the filin of the first big nuisance lawsuit under FOSTA, against a company that even few “sex trafficking” fetishists would have predicted as a target:

[Shysters recruited] fifty women [as plaintiffs in a predatory lawsuit claiming that deep-pocketed]…tech giant Salesforce…help[ed] the now-shuttered website Backpage facilitate sex trafficking…The [shysters claimed the]…women…were “sexually exploited and trafficked through Backpage”…[in] New Orleans, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Seattle, Chicago and Phoenix, among others.  The lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court accuses Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff of overseeing a strategy where the company claimed to be fighting trafficking but “Behind the scenes … kept taking Backpage’s money and supporting it with the CRM [customer relations management] database of pimps, johns, and traffickers that Backpage needed to operate”…

Basically, this is equivalent to suing a paper mill because lawyers claim that its paper was used to print a book that a woman claims inspired a nameless boyfriend to beat her up at some point in the past (even though there were neither witnesses nor evidence to said beating).  Such lawsuits, however flimsy, are generally settled out of court for tens of millions of dollars and are thus accepted by the hoi-polloi as “proven” even if they could never have actually won in a jury trial.  And that’s not even the worst of it; as Elizabeth Nolan Brown explained,

…Backpage and FOSTA tested the waters.  [Politicians]…are now talking about carving out more exceptions in Section 230 or abolishing it entirely.  That would allow not just any politically disfavored platforms but anyone that provided any services to them—cloud companies, payment processors, any kind of software, vendors, etc.—to be sued or charged criminally.  It could make it completely untenable for many such services to work with companies that let user-generated, social, free speech flourish.  That’s the end goal.  Don’t be fooled by the cynical “sex trafficking” spin…

The internet may survive outside of the US and be accessible to US citizens, but that would require other countries to invest in building new internet “backbones” out of the reach of power-mad US politicians, and nobody seems inclined to spend that money yet.  Until and unless they do, the internet as we know it will be gone in a very short time, replaced by something much more like cable TV than the powerful engine of free thought it has been until now.

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