Barbra Streisand, the Internet, and you

By trying to lock down the Internet, misguided lawmakers -- and divas -- are creating a new generation of users who evade such controls with ease

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I've written about jailbreaking the Internet in the past, and it's already happening, before any of these truly disturbing laws hit the books. The site TorrentFreak recently reported on the results from a survey conducted by a research group at Sweden's Lund University that shows that 40 percent more 15- to 25-year-olds are using alternative methods to access the Internet since 2009. These methods are primarily VPNs and anonymizing proxies. The kids are way ahead of the old men writing legislation to try to control something they don't understand.

What may be happening here is that the more the governments of the world try to constrain the open Internet, the more they give rise to innovations to circumvent those constraints. It's a game of cat and mouse, but you might be hard-pressed to figure out which one is the cat and which the mouse.

Within a few years, one or more of these bills might actually become law. If the recent information on the NSA's massive data collection efforts are any indication, those bills may ultimately be unnecessary except for use as platforms for prosecution. The word that today's teens and 20-somethings are hearing is that they're being spied on and their access to information is being curtailed for absurd reasons. The FBI is also getting into the game, demanding that they be given backdoor access to any social networking site. In may ways, the response from knowledgeable users is to shrug and do an end-run around it, rendering the whole mess useless to catch bad guys, yet still collecting data on millions of innocent people.

If the proclaimed reasoning behind all of this data collection and constraints is to assist law enforcement or to protect copyright, it has failed before it's even begun. There is no way to win this game -- and to try with such ridiculous tactics simply shines a light on the alternative.

We hear again and again that if they outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns. There's some truth to that. If they outlaw the free and open Internet, you can be certain the outlaws will have no problem continuing to communicate over the Internet without detection -- and so will those who aren't outlaws and simply don't want their every Google seach documented. The forces of darkness may try, but their pointless endeavor to lock down the Internet can never succeed.

This story, "Barbra Streisand, the Internet, and you," was originally published at Read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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