Foxy firefighters and the clash between individual and collective liberalism

The biggest speculation in the tech industry these days concern net neutrality and the last week was no different. Whilst I’m happy that TRAI is clear on upholding the net neutrality in my own country, India, the clouds of doom could be clearly seen in USA as the FCC is trying hard to banish net neutrality and bring control of the Internet in the hands of a few large companies.

This is quite worrying for Internet in general because the world looks up to the United States for laws governing the digital space, not India. What’s hilarious is that the FCC is resorting to unbelievable arguments like broadband isn’t a telecommunication service in their desperate attempt to repeal net neutrality. I hope the US legal system is smart enough to discard such illogical arguments and the light of justice prevails in the country where Internet was first invented.

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The positive thing though is that those fighting on the side of net neutrality are also strong in numbers and include companies like Reddit, Mozilla, Vimeo, etc. along with 22 state attorneys. Also, unbelievably, in the middle of this protest against repeal of net neutrality are a bunch of fire fighters who also want net neutrality to prevail! Fire fighters of California are citing public safety as a reason to uphold net neutrality and logically so. According to the linked ABC news report, California witnessed the largest fire in its entire history and the firefighters encountered an unexpected danger - they couldn’t communicate with their team members as Verizon was deliberately throttling and slowing down Internet speed on their phones. This is just a small sample of what could happen across the world if net neutrality was repealed for good.

In other news, Facebook seems to be offering teenagers 20/month in exchange for their phone activity data. While privacy advocates are all pitchforks on this happening and calling for Facebook to be made liable, this has a very large implication on the ever ongoing debate on “Individual Liberty vs Collective Liberty”. For me, personally, it makes sense that digital privacy is a very important thing and online companies shouldn’t be encouraged by allowing to run schemes like these when studies have shown that they already collect a whole lot of user data by default (location tracking, analytics, diagnostic data, etc.). Any other ration dude who has some knowledge of Information Technology will also think similarly, I suppose. However, if I try to advocate this knowledge to others and call for laws preventing such individual sale of private data, we are venturing into the area of collective liberalism, and here comes the danger of a clash happening between collective and individual liberalism. The thing is that those teenagers (however misguided they are), have full liberty to trade their private data with facebook or whatever social media company they want, and preventing them from doing that might be against the ethics of individual liberalism, that’s just my few cents. In all probability, this debate could continue for years to come and so will the privacy debate, hopefully a solution will be found which is favorable and acceptable to everyone.

Last but not the least, there are many studies like these sprouting up these days claiming that deleting Facebook or Twitter accounts bring happiness in people’s lives. However, I want someone to perform another study into the mystery of why do so many people decidedly stay unhappy by constantly plugging into the social media sites!

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