opinion

ASACP: Eyes Wide Shut

Tim Henning

The game is afoot people — are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin — I hope you have been paying attention to the highly significant proposals that are being brought forward to both how the Internet is delivered and who it is controlled by. These changes have the potential to alter the status quo that we all have enjoyed for the past 20 years ... give or take. We live in a time where a free and open Internet is a unique and vital service for people globally. This needs to be both protected and cherished. Yet this free and open system is the very thing that threatens the agendas of many in positions of power and those people seek to garner greater control of perhaps the most level playing field the world has ever known.

One highly significant change being proposed — how the Internet is delivered — threatens “net neutrality.” The term net neutrality was coined by Columbia Media Law professor Tim Wu in 2003 and is defined as the principle that all legal digital content be transmitted equally no matter the content or the ownership of the data pipes being used to deliver the content. Big, medium and small, start-up or corporate giant, content travels at the same speed for all. In short, it allows for a level playing field for all stakeholders. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is threatening to change all that by proposing a tiered Internet system that would allow Internet service providers that own the infrastructure to charge premium fees for access to faster Internet lanes while others are relegated to the slower lane.

There are government and regulatory representatives around the world that are looking for a solution to the lack of a global regulatory body with teeth. A means to enforce regulations once brought forward on a global scale.

On the surface this might seem harmless enough — why not allow companies that want a faster lane have it if they are willing to pay the premium fees? The problem with this kind of proposal is that it slants the playing field — it will no longer be even. Smaller companies and start-ups, including smaller ISPs, will be put at a competitive disadvantage if they cannot initially afford the premium fees.

Those that own the broadband infrastructure will also have control over what companies get access to the fast lanes and at what price. Think of streaming services like Netflix or Hulu that are in direct competition with the companies that not only own the broadband infrastructure but also offer their own pay per use streaming services like Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Think this has nothing to do with the online adult entertainment industry? Think again — the ability to control who gets the fast lanes and who gets the slow lanes is more than just a have and have not issue. What if the providers of the faster lanes decide they don’t want certain content having access to premium lanes or that they will charge even more for it based upon the type of content being delivered? It opens the doors wide for wholesale discrimination. Remember these are in fact private corporations who will be under no obligation to allow open access to all — as is currently the case. The FCC is currently taking public comments on this issue before voting on this proposal in four months time. You can file your comments online at the FCC website.

Another very critical change that is on its way was most recently debated at the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance, or NETmundial, which took place, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in late April. Representatives from 180 countries were there to debate a decentralized Internet and the current absence of truly representative or democratic systems of Internet governance, including how critical Internet resources are managed.

At the heart of the debate is the matter of who should control the core functions of the Internet. Currently, the U.S. is in control of these functions but in 2015 control of ICANN will be handed over by the U.S. Commerce Department to a “global multi-stakeholder body.” While some feel that the U.S. has too much control over what has become a globally vital resource of daily life in the modern age. It must be noted that over the past 20 years the U.S. has done an excellent job of not using this control as a political club to strong arm other nations with. However, with the Edward Snowden Wikileaks revelations of mass surveillance in recent months there is a severe lack of trust — globally — in the current state of affairs.

Some have proposed that this international body be under the control of the United Nations. This is a position that both China and Russia are championing as both countries have the ability to veto and thus could share greater control over the Internet in the coming years. In opposition to this proposal are civil liberties and free speech organizations as well as the U.S. — among other nations. It is feared that such a body could empower countries like China and Russia who have a history of censoring content and curbing expression online.

There are government and regulatory representatives around the world that are looking for a solution to the lack of a global regulatory body with teeth. A means to enforce regulations once brought forward on a global scale. The adult entertainment industry is most definitely in the sights of some of these representatives. Now imagine a U.N.- type Internet body that has the power to enforce such regulations on a global scale. If this does not send chills down your spine your eyes are wide shut.

ASACP’s business is as much about protecting your business as it is about protecting children. Supported by sponsor and membership fees as well as by donations to its foundation, ASACP is at the forefront of online child-protection on behalf of the online adult entertainment industry.

For more information regarding ASACP, sponsorship opportunities and how your business can help, please contact tim@asacp.org or vince@asacp.org.

About ASACP

Founded in 1996, ASACP is a non-profit organization dedicated to online child protection.

ASACP is comprised of two separate corporate entities, the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection and the ASACP Foundation. The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) is a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization. ASACP manages a membership program that provides resources to companies in order to help them protect children online. The ASACP Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The ASACP Foundation battles child pornography through its CP Reporting Hotline and helps parents prevent children from viewing age-restricted material online with its Restricted To Adults (RTA) website label (www.rtalabel.org). ASACP has invested nearly 18 years in developing progressive programs to protect children, and its relationship in assisting the adult industry’s child protection efforts is unparalleled. For more information, visit www.asacp.org.

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