Dangerous ideas – What if the Internet was free for everyone?

We have always paid to communicate with others when there has been distance involved.   From the marathon runner dying after delivering his message in ancient Greece, to the pony express and the use of the railroad to open up the american west to the communication revolution that is the Internet, someone has to pay, either with their life or something less valuable but in places harder to find.

The problem with the internet is that it really is a have and have not type of product.  Yes the west has access to it, starting with the old message boards it has become the main controlling influence for business and private life – lets just say life itself to most modern societies.

It has created a great rift.   The difference is who has access and who has not.   The modern western world – USA and Canada, the EU, Australia and New Zealand and in the larger cities of most countries all over the world.  That’s well and good for them but what about the rest of the world?    South East Asia has Internet but it is expensive and sporadic and definitely not something that you can rely on.

To most of us it is not a problem, if I ask any of my sons or daughter they would not care as long as they were connected.   Their generation takes Internet access as a right of passage.

If everyone had access to the internet through wireless, hard wired or satellite and it was FREE where would we be?  What would change?  I know I am talking about a Roddenberry utopian (star trek) world environment, but just think what we, the human race, could achieve?

Could you imagine the innovation that would come about, the ideas from people who have no knowledge of the internet would be profound.

A couple of years ago I was involved in a project to bring Internet and the web to some of the remotest parts of Australia.   Great project, only to be shelved by short sighted ‘crats and even shorter sighted labour politicians.   To bring that level of Internet access to the indigenous people was brilliant.   The discussions with some of the community leaders concerning what they could do once they had access was breathtaking.

Just this project, showed that given the opportunity, that thinking outside the box was not only the norm but was a natural progression.   The ability for an artist in Alice Springs to sell directly to a studio in Paris had the communities truly salivating.

That project was for 500 sites in the remotest parts of Australia using Satellite technology from 2008, imagine what could be achieved now just in Australia, and yes that does not include the NBN.

Globally, from the outback of Australia to the Serengeti, from the deserts of Chad to the jungles of Borneo, the ideas generatedby free connection and full access would be truly monumental.

Technologically is it possible?   I do not know.    Thats what I am asking.    The legacy that this would bring would create a leap forward in human communication that rivals the wheel and the domestication of the horse.

Economically is it possible?     It would hurt a number of people, ISP’s and telco’s for instance, but there would be profound gains.   Although smart devices would be the direction for most, the $25 computer would truly come into its own and once again could you imagine the impact.

So is it doable? Of course it is, with human nature you just need the right catalyst, the correct motivation, the little nudge in the right direction – what do you think?

Roger Smith, is an educator. Teaching students at ADFA (UNSW) and showing them how vulnerable they are to cybercrime.

He is also CEO at R & I ICT Consulting Services Pty Ltd, an Amazon #1 author on Cybercrime and founder of the SME Security Framework. He is a Consultant who specialises in inexpensive and highly effective security strategies for small and medium businesses and not for profit organisations.

He has developed and authored the SME Security Framework and the Security Policy Training Course which are considered to be the definitive guides to helping SME's protect their organisation using the principles of Technology, Management, Adaptability and Compliance.