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Global Digital Divide a 'Barrier to Wider Equality' That Must Be Closed, Says World Wide Web Inventor Tim Berners-Lee

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/06/12/global-digital-divide-barrier-wider-equality-must-be-closed-says-world-wide-web

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Working in local government I am finding that there are allegedly hundreds of millions of federal dollars being mustered for rural broadband. Looking closer, rural governments do not have the resources needed to jump through the myriad of hoops the FCC is requiring potential recipients to jump through.

During 2019 I attended a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) meeting addressing USDA rural broadband grants. The USDA operative running the meeting’s first comments were "USDA spells grant L-O-A-N.
Like rural governments and utilities had the ability to take on more debt in 2019 ?
Not to mention that COVID-19 is resulting in rural governments’ and utilities’ 2020 finances rapidly deteriorating, making taking on more debt impossible.

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“Digital technology is central to almost every aspect of the response to the pandemic, from vaccine research to online learning models, e-commerce, and tools that are enabling hundreds of millions of people to work and study from home,” said [U.N. Secretary General António] Guterres. “But the digital divide is now a matter of life and death for people who are unable to access essential healthcare information.”

This all sounds profoundly mistaken. The relative importance of Internet technology to Brazilians as their society confronts a novel plague, compared to all the other essentials, seems a stretch – with a high likelihood of being hollow corporate sales-jive from Berners-Lee: a scam, a further means of elevating Bezos toward the throne of Earth’s first trillionaire.

If having the Internet handy offers protection, why are we so messed up in New York and Los Angeles?

Can smartphones provide more access to the internet? Probably not enough for some of the more remote areas with no cellphone towers, though.

It takes all imagi-Nation and Neo-Liberal E-CON indoctri-Nation to try envisioning Private Sector investors willing to privatize the cost and risks of developing something like the uses of cyber space which the public socialized the development costs of without GOP Deficit Hawk weaponized inspection of R&D budgets as Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web knows and appreciates more than most.

Here’s what such public policy outcomes used to be a U.S. template for developing nation-states back when we got better policy outcomes than the Cold War weaponized by Milton Friedman and the Chicago Boys Neo-Liberal E-CON’d outcomes after the revolution that was not televised back in the 1970’s. When Washington’s lucratively contracted Uncle Miltie & the Chicago Boys had the chutzpah to overthrow the Paleo-Cons of Nixon-Buchanan-Safire-Phillips vintage when the pragmatic Paleos who at least rhetorically and in terms of GOP campaign platform put America First including foreign trade protectionism of internal U.S. markets that were the post WW II envy of the double world war ruined Euros, Asians and Near Easterners during the Battle of the OPEC OIL BLOCKADE OF THE U.S. Nixon’s Paleo-Cons advised him to freeze prices and wages which Nixon, paradoxically exposing the Red Baiting anti-Commie career climbing crusader Nixon to charges of turning Pinko Commie himself by Washington’s ARAMCO bid-net partners and the Neo-Cons who embraced Neo-Lib E-CON doctrines for the fast buck that Daddy Warbucks could turn.

That aggravated the natural runaway inflation that no economist really has any cure for and tends to occur cyclically and was in part catalyzed by the soaring Stock Market, better represented Labor market, the Finance Sector’s appreciation for Post WW II Big Government housing stability that came from enterprising contractors like Fred Trump making family fortunes by building on Washington and Tax-Payer Money subsidized low income housing (for whites as the NY State courts found when civil charges were filed by the Justice Department against Fred Trump). The Dow Chemical Agent Orange, Vietnam defoliant boost that lifted other stock market valuations created a consequence of the Vietnam War (of choice not necessity) and other Big Government stimulus creating our runaway inflation and the Neo-Con embrace of Neo-Liberal E-CON Big Government and Deficit Spending while the deflationary spirals of our global industrialized trading partners caused them to be more prudent and nose to their productive and exporting knitting in the burgeoning tech markets. Our global trading partners like Japan have been in 3 decades of deflationary cycle with no end in sight. Meanwhile the financializing and de-industrializing colonial empires like the UK who were ruined by a century of over-expansion and ruined theaters of war on their own soil and whose currency was the opposite of the inflation-plagued U.S. dollar.

Rather, the British Sterling and Japanese Yen were valued too high for most of their global trading partners to keep up demand as exports and so-called Free Trade Agreements moved manufacturing off-shore along with unfettered Global Capital to wherever Slave Labor thrived and all regulation was captured by the trans national Corporate Caliphate, while the trade tariffs did away with protectionist compensation of domestic manufacturing bases. Leading eventually to Trump stealing from the House of Clinton-Obama-Biden-Summers-Geithner-Holder the very Trade Issues and the abandoned once stable enough to qualify for a 30 year mortgage middle American Working Class that twice threw the Electoral College mechanism into awarding the Presidency to Republican candidates whose share of the popular vote kept shrinking even further behind Democrats who nevertheless agreed to lose the Executive branch and Senate. Eventually Democrats got used to losing the Judiciary and purely socialized Military and National Security branches as well, if not to Trump than to the consequence of Neo-Liberal E-CON doctrine, namely PRIVATIZATION.

Mitch Ritter\Paradigm Sifters, Code Shifters and Song Chasers
Lay-Low Studios, Ore-Wa
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It’s time to Nationalize the cable coming into our homes. Public Utility.
Then let the ‘free market’ compete for access to my home.

Well, he’s not incorrect.

There is another matter that is relevant here, however. While the Net is still denied to many, its free use is increasingly denied to most. Universal surveillance and various sorts of censorship have been brought together both to control discourse and to return commodification to the arts and to the intellectual fields.

Our search engines, ISPs, governments, and companies large enough to pressure ISPs control what we access. Social media and content hubs control what is posted. Government and corporate entities trace use and keep records. For perspective, these are entities very like unto those that people have just been in the streets protesting.

If the Net is to bring a wider equality, it has to escape the control of those whom we call “the few.” Since most censorship and tracking are invisible to the victims and because Americans have lost all significant electoral hold on politics, most legislation will remain of little use.

One factor could help, could it be accomplished. We need to decriminalize cryptography and actually use real cryptography that has no backdoor. The earlier we push for this, the better our odds of accomplishing it. This is a door that is closing fast.

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It is almost like it stigmatizes people only on a broader basis. Globalization is more of a structured equalized poverty and standardization. Ugh.