Having beaten back attempts to mandate net neutrality, phone and cable giants are busy hijacking the Internet for their own purposes. (Big Brother poster from TomGPalmer.Com.)
I tried to download a new copy of OpenOffice yesterday, using the BitTorrent client suggested on the OpenOffice Web site. It never initialized. Comcast is my ISP.
Cable operators don't want to allow video downloads which might compete with their own offerings, and their control of you as a customer.
This is far from the worst thing that can happen.
In Canada Rogers Communications (their version of Comcast) has been hijacking Google's main page, adding its own text to the top. The same technology might let it add its own ads. Or switch you to Yahoo.
The stateful packet inspection gear which started appearing in the early 1990s has matured to the point where large ISPs can monitor all user traffic. Governments are encouraging this. Their own ambitions are encouraging this.
Lauren Weinstein notes how recent patent applications let ISPs routinely spy on users and modify Web pages. Many are now writing contracts to allow pervasive traffic monitoring and modification by default.
In a competitive Internet access market users can vote with their mice against such abuses. In a non-competitive market, such as we currently have, we can't.
The technology and incentives are all in place to transform today's Internet into tomorrow's Corporatenet, where your every online move is monitored, and where your ISP will also look to take commercial advantage of what you do.
Much of this has happened quietly, in the shadows. But in 2008 it will become obvious.
What are you going to do about it?