Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Internet as utility

I haven't had a phone land line since 2004. And for many months since then I have gone without a TV. On the other hand, I have always had an internet connection - in fact, the few days between moving into a new place and having the ISP turn on the service were so miserable that I ended up buying one of those USB mobile modems. It doesn't work too well, but it's better than nothing.

Which brings me to the point: I can't agree when people say that Facebook is a utility and therefore needs to be regulated. This is just non-sense. As Paul Carr put it:

"The test, by the way, for if X is a utility: if the sentence ‘Millions of children in Africa have no access to x’ doesn’t sound like a headline from the Onion". [the Onion is an online newspaper famed for surreal, fictitious headlines. N.A.]

On the other hand, the Internet is most certainly an utility. Maybe not for everyone, but for a lot of people that depend on it to work, to communicate and to do business. Plus, the Internet is the main tool through which citizens interact with their governments - which cannot be said of TV, for instance.

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