There's a lot going on in Internet land.
It is well established that the United States is mediocre in its broadband service. "[M]ost Americans are still stuck in the Internet slow lane, far from the frontier of our possibilities. And the main roadblock remains much the same as it has been for years: a lack of competition." But Google has a new project called Google fiber that they hope will start to bridge the gap and drive a competitive market. "Shortly after Google’s fiber started operating in Kansas City, Time Warner increased speeds across the city, offering its first 100 Mbps service in the country. After Google said last month it would build a 1 Gbps network in Austin, AT&T said it would build one too."
It's great that the United States will have access to higher-speed Internet access to keep pace with places like South Korea, Japan, and Switzerland. The Internet has had such a huge impact on society since its inception (happy 20th anniversary of the World Wide Web). But this greater access may now come at a price.
The FBI is weighing a sweeping overhaul of wiretap laws because it says that the current wiretap laws are antiquated in light of new technology. "The F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, has argued that the bureau’s ability to carry out court-approved eavesdropping on suspects is “going dark” as communications technology evolves, and since 2010 has pushed for a legal mandate requiring companies like Facebook and Google to build into their instant-messaging and other such systems a capacity to comply with wiretap orders." Opponents of an overhaul say that "the F.B.I.’s proposal would render Internet communications less secure and more vulnerable to hackers and identity thieves." Proponents of an overhaul say that "[t]his doesn’t create any new legal surveillance authority. This always requires a court order. None of the ‘going dark’ solutions would do anything except update the law given means of modern communications."
So we win some (greater access), and we lose some (more surveillance).
The Internet is such a powerful communication tool, and it's a little scary that it can be controlled so easily. We are left to the will of the grid (and the government). A prime example is Syria where the Internet has played a major role in uprisings. Today, Internet services were restored in Syria "after a countrywide outage cut off the country from the rest of the world for nearly 20 hours. There had been speculation that the regime pulled the plug, possibly as a cover for military actions, but no large-scale military offensives were reported Wednesday. In the past, President Bashar Assad's government halted Internet service in selected areas during government offensives to disrupt communication among rebel fighters."
I had a recent conversation with my friends who fall in the 30-50 age group, and we were discussing the ubiquity of the Internet and the awe-inspiring fact that anyone 20 or younger does not know a time without the Internet. It's already transformed the world, and it is constantly evolving. It will be interesting to see how the law evolves to keep up with it.