Communication in the Internet age | Luis Britto Garcia


Every technological advance raises a utopian dream and a dystopian nightmare. The invention of the internet around 1989 generated enthusiastic expectations. Creator Tim Berners-Lee refused to file the patents that would have made him a billionaire. An artifact originally appropriated by the military-industrial complex as an underground network invulnerable to atomic attack became an instrument apparently available to all for the free exchange of messages and knowledge. If in the era in which we live the most precious asset is information, a channel that allows it to be multiplied and communicated in a practically free and universal way seemed an open door to Utopia. It promised work, education and creation at a distance, eliminating the urban megaconcentration and the waste of fuel. It was the beginning of a new mode of production, in which the raw material - the information - the tools - the computer - and the product - the processed information - were once again the property of the worker. 


The optimism did not last long. Just as all the goods at the disposal of humanity - land, water, minerals, biological organisms, productive forces - were monopolized, the internet also fell under the power of the operators. The network conceived to transmit messages did not take long to find whoever wanted to become the owner of them and through them to their issuers. Currently, about 70% of global GDP is created by the tertiary sector (finance, research, education, advertising, computing, communication, entertainment) which in turn is managed through the Internet. Since the last century, the United States developed the Echelon spy system to decode bids in tenders and ensure that US companies won them. Network operators developed mechanisms to appropriate the knowledge created by society, and forbid it to use it. Information, like surplus value, is expropriated from the society that creates it, and tends to be concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. Only four giants - Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon - total the largest number of messages sent. To dominate the Net is to dominate the economy. 


All control over the economy becomes social control. The Internet and networks accumulate memberships that exceed the citizenships of most sovereign states. At the beginning of 2021, 4.660 billion people use the internet: 59,5% of the world's population. 5.200 billion use cell phones, 66,6% of the planet's inhabitants. 4.200 billion people are trapped in social networks: 53,6% of earthlings. In these networks, Facebook alone gathers 2.740 billion people; You Tube, 2.291; Whats App, 2.000. Internet users spend an average of six hours and 54 minutes a day in it: the usual length of a working day ( In Venezuela there are more cell phones than citizens. The majorities look to the networks for an artificial substitute for the village community and the personal relationships destroyed by the megacities. These inordinate clienteles are immeasurable markets whose users incessantly provide their operators with invaluable data and receive publicity and propaganda in return. 


All social control is exercised through the usurpation of rights. Imagine that a courier claimed the power to open letters and postal packages and appropriate their content. Such a service would be denounced as an inadmissible instrument of tyranny and would lose all of its users. But from the beginning, first the governments, and then the operators of the Network abusively attributed both privileges. Today, the user can be sure that all their computer messages are opened, scrutinized and used for their own purposes by the organizations that transmit them and their accomplices. Content analysis programs detect the presence of certain key words or verbal constructions and alert surveillance mechanisms that apply tight controls over the senders of the message. Tightening the fence, the channels install "cookies" on users' computers, spy programs that provide detailed information on the content of the computers and the messages they emit. These mechanisms subject Internet users to a world of total control, in front of which the two-way television imagined by George Orwell in 1984, which not only transmitted images to the viewer, but also recorded all the actions of the viewer. Such practices are not exclusive to private network owners. Edward Snowden defected from the US intelligence services when he noticed that they were spying on all cell phones, and that the number of devices dedicated to monitoring his compatriots was greater than those applied against the rest of the world.


 It is almost impossible to open a web page without it informing us that it uses "cookies" to serve us better - actually, to spy on us better - and that the mere fact of using it is equivalent to consent to host a spy on the device that communicates with us. the world. If we consider that 59,5% of the world's population uses the Internet, and that each user hosts several “cookies”, there would be more computer spies than human beings. Some portals innocently ask us to enter our email password, which is like asking us for the key to the house, the car and the safe at the same time. But our so-called servants already have them: we are actually their servants. Web pages, social networks explicitly or implicitly attribute the right to use for their own purposes all the content that users circulate on them. It is as if a postal service usurped the ownership of all the messages and objects entrusted to it. It is easy to understand what this means in a system where the fundamental economic good is knowledge. To appropriate information is to take over the world.


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