Thursday, May 18, 2017


By Gilbert Morris:

Professor Gilbert Morris

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will begin a rollback of net neutrality; which is likely to lead to a two tier internet; more extreme than the current division between the internet you know today and the ominous "dark net", in which everything from humans to nails seems to be for sale.

What is important is that large corporations will be able to pay - as some do now - to lock in their web presence at higher speeds, including processes for purchasing.

As usual, whilst in general poor people will suffer the first eddies of unforeseen disadvantages, also as usual, the Developing World and the Caribbean - in particular - will be at the bottom of the heap.

I wonder whether we observe how the global financial and political system is forming a divide beyond our shrinking opportunities to go to Miami?

Already, all of our telephone calls are recorded; already US visas are being denied in record numbers; already foreign banks are limiting credit charging astounding higher fees or just outright leaving our region, and already, money transfers are being hampered by arbitrary rules which seem to change daily with little regard for the hardships caused.

Now the internet, which neither Caribbean governments nor business, nor our institutions or our publics have exploited for commercial advantage, cost cutting, convenience or transparencies, is next.

The undermining of net neutrality could prove to be a slow, imperceptible attack on booking platforms to Caribbean destinations. It could mean that competitive destinations could pay to have ours down graded in search profiles, leading to "throttling"; which could mean seeing our content bunched down with North Korea or countries at the low end of the development scale.

Although I have no ideology, I am known as a conservative economist and I do believe in market forces.

However, I reject "trickle-down" theory as barking nonsense. The assumption of Ajit Pai - FCC Chairman - is the Trumpian belief that if you remove regulations internet service providers will pass benefits and potential lower costs to the consumer. (If you believe that, I will next try to convince you that back hair is sacred).

Here is the point: the affects may be less harmful than expected. But here is yet another example of something - alike to climate change - upon which our future competitiveness and prosperity may hang, and after all, this time, it may change for the worse with no input from us.