The Internet needs a few tweaks and you can help

There are things you can do to protect the Internet. Yes, it is true as seen here on ZDNet, it is possible, that by applying a little bit of common sense and understanding,
Written by Doug Hanchard, Contributor

Every day, you hear about the same issues, how the internet is being abused, it's addictive, attacked, violating privacy, used for criminal activity, and influencing our lives; good and bad.

Everyone has an opinion as to how government can (or shouldn't) fix the issues I just described. But it will never be able to satisfy everyone's definition of net neutrality, fair use, and what constitutes freedom of speech, liberty and universally accepted definition of internet democracy. In the end, it will be up to every current and future user of the Internet to enable its design to flourish.

FACT: It is impossible to make the internet perfect and satisfy everyone.

The cornerstone of society is a set of laws. Applied to the internet, our first mistakes begin here. For many, they are too narrow (or too broad, depending on your point of view) minded with a perceived need to manage other people, lest anarchy will reign. We can't let an International body like the United Nations create the rules; it hasn't solved a single major confrontation or disaster since the Suez Canal crisis in 1956. The internet will not wait another 54 years for another global success to occur.  It should be noted that UNEF Force that protected the Suez Canal as a peace keeping mission imploded upon its forced withdrawal in 1967 and war broke out with the attack on Israel for six days immediately thereafter.

It doesn't mean the United Nations can't be a successful place from which to create Internet laws, we simply have not demanded they do so. I would bet that there are very few ZDNet readers that has written to their local politician, let alone directly to the U.N., and ASKED them to hammer out a set of laws that could apply governance and operation of the internet. Want some help? Here's the email address to the United Nations. And because the United Nations has not had a great track record, I offer the following links to make sure you have no difficulty in finding other elected officials contact details including every member of the United States House of Representatives, Member of Parliament in Canada, and the same for the United Kingdom. Live elsewhere? Use Google containing a search string: MP email address <insert province, state, country>. Replace MP with appropriate elected official's role in government. I know what you're thinking... "not a chance in..." will they fix it the right way or put more succinctly - YOUR way, after all, everybody ELSE's way is wrong. Ah yes, a cynical bunch we are...

As individuals, we can accomplish a great deal, instead of relying upon government institutions. Only if you want to. It does require some effort. Not much, but it does require some input from you. Education is the most important element. We have to teach ourselves and our peers, and be willing to reach out to those that have expertise. Friends, family and the local neighborhood geek are always good places to start.

Need to understand how a virus is spread on the internet? Our ZDNet resources can truly help. How many of us don't have up to date antivirus software packages or double check the trustworthiness of the websites, email, attachments we receive every day. Lazy bunch aren't we...

I / we are too busy, just send me the patch, update and please - make sure it works the first time. Settings for my firewall? What Firewall??? -  I just want to click install -> accept license -> next -> cont -> finished and maybe I have time to let my computer reboot and hurry up already!! I don't even know what default settings even do...



ZDNet readers are probably the least vulnerable. But what about your friends, family, and colleagues at work? Some of you do offer advice and help out. Sorry, but you need to do more. After all, you're the geek in the family right? You want Linux to become mainstream, more hardware drivers and product support? Start showing people how to use it.

We have to take accountability for our actions. How many of you constantly keep sending chain letters around and around and around the cyber highway and YOU know better, but you send it anyway... but it's from my niece / nephew / baby sister...

The email address harvester loves that through process and then you wonder why spam explodes into your inbox? So if your friends are sending a chain letter, talk to them and help them understand the potential impacts such actions create vulnerabilities and security risks to your computer - and theirs.

Want to forward an Amber Alert about a missing child? Please (I beg you) check to see if it's a hoax first. Check with local law enforcement or national police agencies. Don't just pass the email or post forward. It's happening on Facebook, Myspace, everywhere...  children that really DO need help may not get it because we already tuned out and whose fault is that. Let's be accountable to ourselves, not the automatic impulse to hit the forward button.

Are you mad at how China is violating human rights or hacking into email? Where did you buy that latest gadget from? You control everyday, how foreign policy works. But it's 50 bucks cheaper... and yes, you can email the manufacturers too, but you have to look them up. Ignorance can no longer be your defense.

Want better internet service? - email your ISP regularly to let them know that you matter and if the company doesn't care or respond, try the competition. Don't have broadband; start knocking on your friends and neighbors doors and be active. Too much work!!

Got a complaint about how a content provider or software company serves you, complain and make sure you follow up. Still don't get any satisfaction, you know how to escalate an issue, but how often do YOU really do so. We all have excuses, but please... how hard it is to send an email these days!?!? No need for envelopes, stamps and heaven forbid walk to the local post office box. But you say out aloud to yourself - " what good is it going to do, nothing ever happens " Trust me, if George Carlin can be a foot note to a case decided before the United States Supreme Court - 438 U.S. 726 (1978), anything is possible and thus, you can (and will) make a difference.

Common sense - not the FCC, CRTC, OFcom, U.N. Liberal, Conservative, Labour, Socialist, Democrat, or Republican administration is going to make things happen. As the New Year unfolds, how many resolutions have we already broken? The internet goes through that feeling (can the internet have emotions??) every day. Perhaps we need to start keeping our own promises to ourselves, and then maybe things can change.

So I ask again, do you really want the government to solve the Internet's problem or take action yourself? You know what will happen if you don't...

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