No matter what course the standoff takes in the months and years to come, it has brought into focus this battle for control over how unrestricted the Internet should be. Right now users depend on companies such as Google to defend the Internet from forces—governmental and otherwise—that would exert more top-down control over it. That may not be enough. “Google—along with a whole range of Internet companies and communications companies—has created this layer on which we depend,” MacKinnon observes. Yet there is no set of rules, no Internet Bill of Rights, that would codify the rights of citizens online. “These companies are saying, ‘We’re good people, trust us,’” MacKinnon says. “As with a benevolent dictatorship, it works really well when the current leader is a great guy. But then he dies, and his evil son takes over. And then everybody’s screwed.”
This article was originally published with the title Internet Ideology War.