hello big brother

Joshua of Strip Mining for Whimsy points to an article in The Nation which scares the hell out of me. The opening paragraph:

The nation’s largest telephone and cable companies are crafting an alarming set of strategies that would transform the free, open and nondiscriminatory Internet of today to a privately run and branded service that would charge a fee for virtually everything we do online.

To be honest, I figured this would happen sooner or later. The earnings potential is just too big to ignore, and of course the telecommunications industry is unhappy about the fact that we’re all communicating with each other without tithing them in the process. The fact that we pay for telephone and cable access isn’t enough, as far as they are concerned.

The internet is transforming the way things work at a very basic level, and it makes the big corporations very nervous for more reasons than just lost revenues. We talk about them and the government and the relationship between two, and they can’t control it or manipulate it to their own ends.

The question is, what can be done to keep the internet independent of commercial control. I hope somebody smarter than me has some good ideas.