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We use an https address because some browsers tell you sites using old fashioned http are unsafe to view. Https secures the communications between site and viewer.
We don't issue a cookie warning or request
that you approve their use, because we don't issue
cookies. The hosting company keeps track of
your IP address (or your first VPN-link address) to
enable communication, and their Cpanel output tells
us by country generally where you (or your VPN host)
are located. But that's about all.
We don't track users. Why should we? We don't want to sell you. But it makes us reflect: why isn't the commercialism of Internet surveillance defined as slavery?
Compare it with 'traditional' slavery: both are based on a relatively small number of parties (once land owners, now technology resource owners) profiting from people who are ill equipped to avoid their 'captivity' or negotiate to extract a fair portion of the profits they generate.
The definition of slavery has expanded over time to include situations that don't fall under the traditional understanding of the term; the United States Department of State counts multiple forms of modern slavery, including human trafficking and armed forces recruitment or use of children as combatants through force, fraud or coercion (https://www.state.gov/what-is-modern-slavery/). We contend that the commercialization of Internet surveillance should be added to the list.
What is significant for slavery? A major element is that 'captive' individuals aren't allowed to benefit fairly from their participation.
Plantation slaves were fed
and housed, but they were slaves none the less. Tracked
web users may enjoy their 'free' systems and services, but
unfortunately our lunch is never free. It is irrelevant
how the landowner procured his land or the technologist his
technology. It is relevant that we aren't involved in
profiting from the value of the information being collected
and sold or traded.
We are not given the choice to sell our information to the highest bidder on our own behalf. We are coerced to use 'free' services, and we can be excluded from the 'free' services if we don't consent to information about us being collected and sold.
The traditional slave could always 'avoid being caught', or risk running away, but even when offered 'opt out' the Internet user has few places to hide.
Facebook has between 2.6
and 2.85 billion users, and Mozilla's
Firefox browser tells us: "Facebook can track your browsing
far beyond Facebook.com. Facebook Like and Share
buttons, for example, can track where you've been - even on
pages you never like or share."
We have no opportunity to
examine any trade links between the companies tracking us; we
can't profit from our own information when it is no longer our
How much are you worth? We are treated as chattel when we are not allowed to see the value of our information that is collected, collated and sold. "Chattel [is] the most extreme form of slavery, in which the enslaved were treated as property" (Wikipedia).
The profits generated by
commercialized tracking skew competition between
providers. Companies funding development through the
sale of tracked information have an advantage over those who
do not, so we should expect increased tracking as a commercial
But are we physically
captive? Any company that calls itself Meta recognizes
there is no difference today between our physical captivity
and coerced Internet captivity.
Is the commercialization of
Internet surveillance just a smart business
model? Of course. But admit that slavery on
a cotton plantation was just a smart business model too.
- - -
In 1994 I created a public website for a very large, high tech company headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden. The company name is a common Swedish family name.
It was a rational business decision to register the company name under the .se country code top level, but also under .com and, since the company is multinational, a large number of additional country code top levels.
I subsequently checked the local telephone directory and found there were 100 unrelated companies in the Stockholm area listed under 4 variant spellings of our company name. None of the others could register .com or .se using 'our' name spelling and, by some standards, anyone using their variant spelling could be accused typo-squatting.
So - one company could prevent 100 other companies in Stockholm from presenting themselves under their familiar name on the Internet, many more in the rest of Sweden, and even more in those countries where we registered under the local country code TLD.
Today an online directory finds 12,781 companies in Sweden under the name Ericsson.
The lack of appropriate domain names doesn't make the Internet a safer, more secure and inviting place for companies, organizations and individuals. It is a limiting factor that invites abuse. These DNS limitations don't promote the public interest.
You may recite 'first come, first served' but that's misleading and semantically incorrect. It's 'first come, exclusively served'. Citing 'first come' doesn't mitigate the damage to all those who are not served.
You may claim 'that's how the Internet works' but demonstrates how it doesn't. You don't dismiss ransomware injections that take down the East Coast fuel supply as an example of 'how the Internet works'.
Remember, the Internet once 'worked' only when domain names were written in letter/digit/hyphen ASCII. Why should everyone in the world be required to speak a subset of American English.
IDNA (Internationalized names) solved the language problem by adding a little code to every browser. This code is invisible to the user.
Where's the innovative technical solution to the 'first come exclusively served' conundrum? Requirements include unlimited naming, full backward compatibility, easy to learn and use, that only a browser update is required (not network infrastructure), and that no current name holders and their content are negatively impacted. Multiplexed Names meet the requirements.
Both the telephone network and social networks like Facebook manage 'unlimited' users with the same name/spelling as the company mentioned above. There are approximately 366.3 million domain names registered across all top-level domains (end of Q4, 2020, according to Verisign) but Facebook has 2.8 billion users. The WIPO has handled >50,000 UDRP cases involving the DNS, but needn't mediate 'rightful ownership' of Facebook user names or telephone numbers.
The phone in your pocket has added new features and functions since 1993, and you use it more.
In his 1999
book Weaving the Web, Tim
He could have written:
Both statements were correct at the time he wrote, but non-LDH ASCII ('foreign' characters and scripts) can now be translated by the IDNA edge application in every browser.
It's easy to evolve the Domain Name System to point to multiple users of 'the same name'.
Full disclosure: we have
no affiliation with any TLD
registry, registrar or