Raj points out that the biggest change in 2011 and into 2012 is the speed of which the Internet is being Balkanized from different providers.
First, it use to be that our fears and concerns stemmed from the government, and their regulations creating havoc. Secondly, it was the fears of hackers and employees; however, today the shift is to Facebook, Apple, Verizon and private corporations and their relentless warrior attempt to fragment the Internet for their benefit.
Unbelievably…there is a great deal of power and wealth surrounding the control and use of the Internet. Surprised…I think not.
Do you think for a moment that any corporation worth its salt will stand ideally by and not try to claim or control as much of the Internet as possible? A question I’ve posed to every one of us who uses the Internet several times in previous posts…”Whose Internet is it?”
US Congress: Stopping Online Privacy Act – SOPA Bill – Threatens Freedom of Speech and more
We are experiencing the beginning stages of corporate and Congress Internet control. As consumers, we are manipulated as to what we can and cannot see while surfing the web. Certain technologies (traffic sniffers) are filtering the internet and the information delivered or not delivered.
We are at the beginnings of the Internet…Whose Internet is it? Knowing those who think it’s their Internet will also clue you in on whom to watch.
Our discussion with Raj Goel shifted to the subject of Net Neutrality and how that affects not only the future of the Internet, but our civil rights and much more.
Cables companies | Cell phone companies | Technology companies (Google – Facebook – Apple) | at one time were in favor of the open source and Net Neutrality, and now they are not so sure, especially when so much money is at stake.
It is not that the corporations have built a network they control, and are now opening it up for access…it’s the reverse. Corporations are now trying to break it up and Balkanize the Internet’s access for no good reason.
What is at stake if we lose Net Neutrality? In the short run, it will be higher costs for every one of us. In the end, it gives unsavory elements/characters control over communication.
Make no mistake…this is a battle for control – money – freedom of ideas – freedom of speech, civil rights, and freedom of livelihood.
Net Neutrality may not have a lot of sex appeal or a lot of sizzle; however, it is without question one of the more important issues that will affect an entire global structure, socially, politically, and economically.
Communication and Awareness… If you do not think these are vital, why do you think one of the first strategic tactics a government entity enforces is to cut of communications not only to those involved in the uprising, but also to the outside world?
Raj offers great insight into Net Neutrality, the significance of the Internet, and the erosion of our civil rights.
Do you know what SOPA is all about? The enclosed video is against the passing of SOPA…I agree.
Good morning, everyone. I’m glad you joined us today on the Cyberhood Watch Live Radio Show. And, Dave, I love hearing out theme song just come on and play like a nice, jazzy tune. That was good today, right?
Dave: That was better, wasn’t it?
Bill: Let’s us know it’s going to be a better day than a couple of weeks ago when it didn’t do that so well, so we’re appreciating that. Yeah, today is going to be a lot of fun. We just came off of holiday weekend, so we want to make sure we wish everybody happy holidays and hope that your family is doing well. I know that our family did a really nice celebration day and everyone’s happy, and the kids are home. So I don’t know about you, Dave, if Christmas break drives you crazy but we’re about there.
Dave: No, I don’t have that problem.
Bill: No, not anymore because his kids are in college but, yeah, kids are fun. And really it always amazes me at the time of year, especially when we do our last couple shows of the year, Dave, that this is why we’re doing our show. I get to see our kids every day, and they got puzzles this year for Christmas so they’ve been putting puzzles together and having fun with their mom. It’s just a lot of fun having the family around and, no I won’t be glad when it’s Monday next week. But you know, I’ll keep that opinion to myself even though we’re broadcasting live, right?
Bill: Truth, right? That’s right. Well, you know, in closing out the year I think that today’s going to be some fun. We’ve had some of our guests come on the last little while that’s been on our show before. And we just thoroughly enjoy having one of our guests returning to our show. They kind of know who we are, they’re a part of our Cyberhood Watch family, and we really appreciate their willingness to come on and share their information with our audience. You know, that really is what makes this information age just such a wonderful and beautiful thing. I mean, there is so much information that can be changed and exchanged through this medium that we have. And, my goodness, all the new software technology becoming available. You can literally touch people around the world. You can do some pretty crazy and wild things. I was watching some videos online. One of the commercials the other night, Dave, of people doing stuff. I don’t know if I would ever do those kinds of things and share that with people I know, but it’s fun that people can do that. And it’s great that businesses can get together, and share that information, and have things happen simultaneously. And research around the world where doctors and scientists can get together and this acceleration of our health knowledge and the people who that effects: everyone, especially worldwide. Just the fact that we can communicate is taking a change this year, Dave. We’re wrapping up 2011, 2012. Our prediction of [something at 3:43], the biggest year ever in broadband communication is coming just around the corner. It’s estimated somewhere between 4.5 and 5 billion. And, Dave, you were saying a couple of weeks ago that that’s actually more than 5 billion now.
Dave: Yeah, that’s the last thing that I heard too was that it had already gone past that predicted mark that [someone at 4:08] was talking about.
Bill: Yeah. Yeah, so you know, net neutrality. We’ve talked about this before, Dave, and I know you’ve written articles about it. And just to kind of the kid in the family and the businesses and how we all work together in this kind of new social kind of world that we’re in. I don’t think it’s any different from anything we’ve ever done before. I just think it’s just so much more intense and so much more action. One of the things that we learn when we read the book Thing and Grow Rich is the number one thing that people don’t do in that process is take action and take action for at least 30 days. And I think the whole communication thing, and this net neutrality, and everything that is setting up for this new medium for the next 25 or 50 years is all about taking the right action. So I think our guest today is really going to be able to shine some light on that, and Raj has been here before. He knows about what Dave and I are talking about because he’s lived it. His career is really about this process. So welcome back to our show and thanks for being on a couple of days after Christmas. We appreciate that.
Raj: Guys, it’s a pleasure to be back. It’s an honor to be back on your show again and again. I have enjoyed doing these.
Bill: Well, thank you. We’re glad you’re here. And with just kind of the holidays being out and over the weekend and now we’re moving into the first of the year 2012. Why don’t you just take us into what you’ve seen over the past 12 months that really has kind of been the biggest, significant thing for you as a whole? We want you to reintroduce yourself to your audience a little bit and tell them just a little, quick note about you. But that’s just kind of my first question to you. What has been the thing that you’ve seen the most exciting or the biggest change or something that you see happening just around the corner that maybe you didn’t see the last time you were on our show or just over the past 12 months? And take her away.
Raj: Sure. So as you know and as you mentioned, I’ve spent my career focusing on Internet security, information security, and protecting businesses and families from regulators, hackers, and employees, usually in that order. And the biggest change I’ve seen over the last 12 months is the speed with which Internet is being Balkanized from different providers. It used to be, we used to fear the government most because government regulations create havoc wherever they go. Second, we used to fear hackers and employees. And in the last 12 months, what has surprised me completely is how quickly Facebook, Apple, Verizon, and these private corporations have gone on a warpath to fragment the Internet for their own private benefit. AOL did this in the mid-90’s with the jailed garden. They built their own parallel Internet, if you will, in the dollop era. And for years, the rest of the net suffered from AOL users. And now we have the nice, open Internet and in the last 12 months, Apple has taken a really big stab at walling off the iPads and the iPhones from everybody else in the app stores and what you can and can’t do. Amazon is now filtering the Internet for everyone who uses Kindle devices. You got a Kindle Fire. What you also got free with your purchase is an Internet traffic sniffer that controls what you can and can’t see, and there’s no guarantee whatsoever that you will actually see the Internet that you want to see off of your Kindle devices. Amazon controls what you can see and what you can’t see. And the US Congress, as usual, is 20 years behind when it comes to technology and the new Stop the Internet Privacy Act, the SOPA bill. They’re trying to curtail freedom of speech in violation of the US Constitution on a global basis. And in doing so, US Congress has distinct honor of being in the same league as Syria, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea. US Congress has now joined the axis of evil.
Dave: Wow. You know, I’m so glad we have you on to talk about this because this is something… I know Bill and I, we talk a lot about communication awareness, and we talk a lot about the different aspects of kids growing up in the digital age and how parents have to deal with that. But a lot of times, certain things just get overlooked because they’re being done quickly, quietly, and this is one of them. It is so critical that we bring everyone’s attention to this because the whole concept of the Internet, net neutrality, how this was supposed to be set up, it’s really being challenged. So I’m kind of curious. Let’s just suppose for a second that net neutrality is done away with. Now it’s in the hands of the corporations. Like you said, I really had overlooked the idea of Apple and Kindle and how they are kind of manipulating this, and that’s really the seedy part of this that really bothers me a lot. A lot of this is done under the disguise. It’s almost like [something at 09:45], you know? They put a bill through, they put all this garbage in on it. Give us a view of what you think it would look like then if net neutrality is done away with.
Raj: Great question and a great set up. Well, we’ve been here before except most of us weren’t alive when this happened. You see, go back to the American Civil War. In the 1860’s, prior to the Civil War, US had 4 or 5 different gauges. The north had 2 different gauges: 1 for the railroads and 1 for the subway systems and so on. And the south and the west had 3 different gauge sizes. And one of the reasons the south lost the war is because their trains and their supply lines could not transfer product fast enough. And when the north won the war, one of the first things US Congress did is build rebuild the southern railroads to the north track size, which is why you can build products form anywhere in the country to anywhere else except for mining tunnels and subway systems. And that ties in with net neutrality. Net neutrality today, or the Internet, is no different than the railroads. It grew as fast as the railroads did. Only faster, it connected the world. The railroads connected the US turning weeks and months of journey into a matter of days. The Internet collapses time and space so you can send an email to China in the same 2 seconds it takes to email the colleague in the cubical next door. And what’s happening now is we’re going back in time, if you will. We had the open Internet until the 80’s, which no one used. Then the Internet became big, and now private corporations with the [something at 11:38] want to fragment the Internet for their own private profit. Governments want to control the Internet because if they control the points and they can regulate it, government’s business is to do surveillance. Whether you call it national security, whether you call it spying, whatever you call it, government’s primary business is to be nosy. They want to know what we’re doing sensibly for our benefits but really because government is full of nosy folks. And corporations have realized they can make more money selling us multiple times down the road than what they can get from billing us from their service that they provide. And by Balkanizing the Internet, whether you calling it protecting decency on the Internet as Congress wants to do, as the moms in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia want to do. Whether you call it freedom of speech for oppressed minorities, which is what certain Middle Eastern and far Eastern politicians want to do. Whether you call it protecting the culture as the Indian government and Brazilian government wants to do. The governments and corporations, for their own different reasons, want to Balkanize the Internet, break up a really good thing. Governments want to do this because they really can’t do surveillance on the Internet as well as they would like. Their tools and their technologies just aren’t as good, and governments are always 20 years behind anyway. And the corporations want to Balkanize the Internet because the more we are their captive audience, the higher they can raise our rates. And a good example of this is cell phones. In most of the world, everybody uses GSM. Everybody else uses GSM. They can buy a phone from carrier 1, go to any other country, any other provider, stick a SIM card in, your number works, and you can take a number with you, and the costs aren’t as high. In the US, we have a Balkanized mobile space. AT&T phones don’t work on Sprint or Verizon. Spring phones don’t work on AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile or vice versa. And as a result, the handsets that we can use, what we pay for the handsets and the service is completely controlled by our vendors. Whether you love your phone company or you hate them, you can’t leave them. The contracts tie you down, and you can’t buy the hottest, greatest phone or the cheapest unit out there. You can only buy the limited selection your phone company is approved for your benefit. And the companies want to turn the Internet into the next cell phone network.
Dave: So then who should we be looking at? Who wants to get rid of net neutrality? Who are the people behind it?
Raj: Well, the cell phones companies are behind it. The cable companies are behind it. Congress is definitely behind it. There are very few companies who are against net neutrality. Depending on when you look at the bill and which version of the bill you’re looking at, there are certain times when the cable companies were for net neutrality. Now they’re against it. The cell phone companies were for it. Now they’re against it. The technology companies, which historically favored net neutrality and open access, the Google’s and the Facebook’s and the Apples of the world, well, now they’re not really sure anymore. They’re seeing more money in having a Balkanized Internet.
Dave: Yeah, and that’s kind of like when I sent you a little email the other day and I made the reference ‘follow the money’. And that’s exactly what’s happening. What I find is kind of aggravating is, like you said, back in the 80’s, the Internet wasn’t a major player. A lot of the corporations couldn’t quite figure out how to monetize or capitalize on it. But now that all these individuals like Bill and I or yourself who are the entrepreneurs and actually put the time in to learn how to monetize the Internet and has brought it forward to a point where obviously it is a place that is lucrative. And so now it’s like you said, they money’s there now. The ability and those who have built it to that point have, you know, really done it on behalf of the larger corporations so that they can just kind of walk in there and they see the value of it. We all talk about the billions and billions and billions of dollars that have been made on the Internet through ecommerce and social media, Internet marketing, and everything else. Well, obviously that’s the golden egg now, so everybody wants to control. I mean, obviously, that’s what’s happening. Do you agree?
Raj: Yeah, everybody wants to be the next Rockefeller, the next Carnegie. And the battle for us is it’s happening in reverse. It’s not that they built the networks, they control it, now we’re opening up the access. We’re going backwards. We built an open network, everybody could be on it, and for a number of reasons and a number of good arguments: preventing spam, preventing crime, lowering the nuisance factor, making it safer under all these rubrics we’re now taking the reverse path of taking this open system which has common standards, common gauges, common technologies and then breaking it up now for no good public reason. I can’t find a single redeeming feature of a Balkanized Internet.
Dave: Yeah, you kind of just answered my question. I was going to say, “Can you make a case for getting rid of net neutrality and I think you just answered that one.”
Raj: Not for adults. We already have a separate Internet for the military, Milnet. We have a separate Internet for high-speed research, Internet 2. I could see a case being made for creating digital playgrounds for students and kids, but that’s not what net neutrality is about. I don’t see a good reason in the Western economies, in the G20, for a Balkanized Internet, for Internet without net neutrality. It would be like saying, “Hey, we’ve got this great highway system in the US and in Europe. Let’s break it up. Let’s put toll roads every 10 feet. Let’s change the road size. Let’s change the gas and the tires acquired in every state. Wouldn’t that be fun?” The only people making money in the short run will be the toll collectors and the gas and power vendors. In the long run, we all lose. If you’re going to get rid of net neutrality and create these different standards and different rights of access, then you might as well the state highway system and break it up into what it was before Eisenhower was elected president. Let’s go back to different roads, different states, different rolls, different tire sizes, and see how much fun that is.
Dave: So going back to my other question, if we lose net neutrality and you paint a picture of what it would look like. What’s at stake if we do lose it?
Raj: In the short run, what’s at stake is higher costs for every one of us. Whether we’re consumers paying our cell phone bill, our cable bill, our Internet bill. Whether we’re corporations, it’s higher expense for those of us who don’t control the cartel or the monopoly on the access. And in the long run, it gives unsavory elements. Call them governments, call them corporations, call them global entities. It gives unsavory characters overarching control over communications. India’s got a law they passed that requires Facebook and Google to block certain words and phrases. China’s got their own rules. Do we all want the rest of the world to play by the rules of the road in China or India or Brazil or North Dakota?
Dave: And I kind of looked at it too as the fact that a lot of what’s happening in the political realm, the elections that take place, there’s a big influence through the Internet. With the passage of foreign entities able to make donations, how do you think the Internet and all that is going to play in if it’s a controlled system and you have the potential to block out certain candidates that maybe need to airtime and they’re not getting out? How does that play in your thoughts when it comes into this political realm and the influence of the Internet and how campaigns might be won in the future?
Raj: Three great separate questions. I don’t worry too much about “foreign influence and politics”. With the citizens united ruling in the US and everywhere else, money talks. So if you’ve got the money, it doesn’t matter if you’re local, international, or vice versa, you’ll find a way to fund your favorite politicians and help them stay bought after the election. So I don’t worry too much about politicians being bought. I worry that they claim they haven’t been bought. Sorry, call me a cynic.
Bill: I just think it’s so true.
Raj: And secondly, the battle for net neutrality isn’t about politics. Politicians are being used as the vehicle to drive this through. It’s a battle for money. It’s a battle for control. It’s a battle for freedom of ideas, freedom of speech, and quite frankly, freedom of livelihood. Without net neutrality, we have a Balkanized Internet. Let’s go back to AOL in the 1990’s. Who made money on AOL? AOL and some of their key vendors. Nobody else did. Google would not have survived in an AOL planet. Yeah, it never would have been created. Facebook could not have been created. The open Internet is why we have the tools and technologies, love them or hate them. Most of the tools we use today would not have been possible without an open Internet funded by US corporations, funded by the government, funded by us through our cell phone bills, cable bills, and DSL bills. And by using net neutrality, whether they talk about protecting innovation, protecting patents as Apple is doing, it’s all about stifling competition. You know, when they were small, they all wanted open Internet. Yeah, Apple wanted open Internet when they were small. So did Facebook, so did Google, so did Verizon. Now that they’re all kings of the hill, now like every other species in history, now that they’re out to become dinosaurs, they want to protect themselves for extinction. And it’s our job as mammals to tell the dinosaurs, “No. Invent, thrive, or die. But you don’t do that by limiting competition, stifling freedom of speech, or killing your competition at birth.”
Bill: You know, it seems such a big thing is being just overlooked here, Raj. I mean, I know Dave’s a lot more kind of introspective. He looks at things and read things a little different than I do. He’s the one that brought this idea to my attention a while ago, but as you start to really dig into this, there’s so much more at stake here than…security’s only a small part of this. If you look at it from your viewpoint because this is how you learned what this problem is. Security is part of it, but really, it’s a much bigger picture of the same thing that Dave and I talk about all the time. It’s being complacent. It’s being very stand back and just kind of what wins over convenience? Nothing. Everyone’s willing to give up everything for convenience. And in the process, we’ve really opened ourselves up to just be right in the middle of this without any control.
Raj: Right, this is not a security issue. This is a civil rights issue and a human right issue. In June 2001, one thing that surprised me to a small degree is that the UN declared Internet access as a basic human right. Now, that doesn’t mean anything in the real world. The UN can say whatever they like, but it’s nice to say that, “Hey, it’s now a basic human right.” It comes right before food and right after education. But for me, this is not just security. Security is in any realm of life: banking, commerce, marriage, raising kids. Security is a component, and it’s part of shelter, but it’s not the only reason to do things. And this is a civil rights issue, and it’s an economic rights issue. If AT&T had never been broken up, we wouldn’t have the cell phones and smart phones we have today. Remember what life was like was like in the 80’s, 70’s, and 60’s when Bell was the only player in town. You bought your phones from [Mob Bell], you had one bill, one provider, they owned the wiring in your house. You rented the wiring that they put in. it’s only after AT&T got broken up that we had the baby Bells and the baby [Lex] and [C Lex] come onboard with the Sprint network, and Nextel, and Verizon Wireless and all these guys. And net neutrality is a way for the Google’s, the Cable Visions, the AT&T’s, the Verizon Wirelesses to protect their turf when we should be going, “No, guys, go back to the [Mob Bell] decision. It’s not too big to fail. You’re too big to live. Let’s break you off so we can foster more innovations and more capitals in the system.”
Dave: You know, it always boils down to that NIMBY effect: Not In My Back Yard. You see this a lot when doing developing. You get homeowners coming in and all of a sudden it’s like, “Well, I’m here, and I’m going to make new rules so that there’s less intrusion into my gated community.” So you’re seeing the same thing: a NIMBY effect. Now that the big ones that you mentioned: the cable companies and the phone companies. Once they’ve succeeded and gotten to this point, anything now is a threat to their bottom line, so it’s Not In My Back Yard. We’re going to have to change that.
Raj: Exactly. Not in my profit margins.
Dave: That’s even better.
Bill: Well, moving forward in 2012, do you see something that the average Joe, the average Bill and Dave, something that we can do? Or is this a much more that we’ve got to be in the political realm where we’re challenging this? Because this is not a talked about subject. It’s brought up. You hear it every once in a while being brought up in conversations. I’ve heard it a couple of times on the news very subtly in different conversations, but if you were to talk about one of the problems on the Internet such as cyber bullying or sexting, you’re going to hear stories about that. There’s going to be political agendas wrapped around that, but as far as I know, there’s not a big movement out there of people saying, “Hey, wait a minute! Net neutrality is something that we need to take control of right now and really as a general public.” I can’t see that we can even let this go on any longer or there’s going to be major, major issues that are going to be so huge that there’s no way that it’s ever going to be changed again. You’re not going to get that break up that we’ve talked about if we don’t start doing something immediately.
Raj: That’s absolutely true, and this goes back to being an informed citizen and being active in politics. Yes, the sexting case and all those are really sexy, and that makes the headlines in news. Net neutrality isn’t sexy and in reality, most of the major media in the Western world, whether it’s Australia, the UK, or the US, is owned by a handful of corporations who have no interest in net neutrality. It’s against their profit motive. So like every other important issue of every era: civil rights, women’s rights, voting rights, you name it. We the informed citizens have to get concerned and buy back our politicians. Al Franken and Charles Schumer have done a really good job of fighting for the average citizen, and where possible, we should be buying back our politicians with votes and dollars.
Bill: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more on that. I think that really is something that has become such a huge problem than I think anyone even recognizes. You mentioned those couple of guys. I know there’s a few people that are talking about our civil liberties in a way that puts them on the hot seat, whether they’re favorable or non-favorable, but it doesn’t really hold well with what’s going on as far as a plan or a movement. And I know you’re talking about it, so if there’s something that Dave and I can do as a small corporation. Is there something that others can do? I know there’s always the simple process, but is the simple process the only way? Just writing letters to your state officials? Or is there something else that we can start to do?
Raj: There is something else you can do. Writing letters and calling your elected officials always works. That’s the only way they respond to us. But also take social media and the social realm into it and do with it what they did with transfer your bank accounts day. When 1 mother got on Facebook and started the transfer your bank accounts movement, Bank of America blinked and cancelled their debit card fees. What we need to do, you, me, and others like us, is A) make a list of companies that are actually supporting net neutrality with a safe space and support them. And the ones who are not, name and shame the guys who are trying to break the spirit of the Internet. And also as consumer, corporations, and individuals, hold our vendors accountable. If you’re using OnStar system, you should be writing Congress and saying, “I want the same rights as an OnStar paying customer that you give to your X customers, and stop collecting data without my consent.” Say the same thing to Verizon Wireless. Stop collecting my data without my consent. Stop breaking the Internet. We have to notify our vendors that we’re not going to blindly write a check every month while they turn around and sell us out for an extra penny.
Dave: Yeah, talk a little bit more about that, Raj. Because I know last time you were on the show, you brought that up where even though you had OnStar in your car and say you’re not longer an active customer, they still have access to you and all the others. They can listen in. Is that correct?
Raj: Sure. Here’s what OnStar said about 2, 3 months ago. What they said is they were changing the terms of service, and Verizon has done this. Cable Time Warner has done this, and Cable Vision has done this. All the companies are doing this. They quietly change the terms of service. In OnStar’s case, here’s what they said: whether you’re an active customer or an ex-customer, we’re going to aggregate your data and sell to 3rd parties data like how fast you’re driving, if you have a seatbelt on, if your headlights are on, did the airbag get deployed, location of your vehicle because they are tracking your vehicle 24/7 through the OnStar system. And when Chuck Schumer and a couple other senators got involved and complained about this, OnStar made a very big noise and pulled a fast one. What they said is, “We’re not longer going to do any of this for our ex-customers.” So if you had OnStar and you cancelled it, they can still sell the data they had on you before while you were a paying customer. But if your service is not deactivated, they could not sell and collect data on your going forward if you are no longer a paying customer of OnStar. If you are a paying customer, however, they reserve the right to sell your data to anybody else and make an extra penny off of you. My position is: it should be the other way around. I’m a paying customer, I’m paying you for a service, you should not unilaterally be able to sell my data to 3rd parties without my informed consent.
Dave: I mean, I totally agree with that.
Raj: It’s not a right we have in the US.
Dave: Yeah. So then is it just stop using OnStar until they listen to you, or is it going back to what you said and starting using Facebook as a leverage or some social network where you can comment on this and start letting others know that it’s happening?
Raj: Both. If you can stop using these products and services, go ahead. But to stop using is not going to send the message. Corporations are not a single-celled organism. They have different mentalities, different politics, different priorities. And my suspicion is that the marketers have gotten a bit too rabid. They’re trying to maximize every single penny from consumer and from customers, and what we need to do as customers is go back to them and say, “Hey, I’m paying you for a service. I’m paying Verizon Wireless for my cell phones right now. I’m paying them for my voice calls. I’m paying them for my Internet on my phone. I am not paying them to take my data and sell it to 3rd party marketers.” And I keep telling them every time they put out a new program, there’s always an opt-out link, we opt out. Also, we notify them on a regular basis that we oppose some of their practices. And it’s quite possible that one division of the company, whether it’s OnStar, Verizon, Time Warner, whoever, wants to erode our privacy, erode our rights, increase their bottom line. Their department may be looking to come back and say, “You do this. We’re taking our business elsewhere,” to the competition. And if enough people do this, they may take notice and change their practices. Bank of America has done this. OnStar did this to some extent. If enough people make noise and take their business elsewhere or threaten to take their business elsewhere, they will notice when it hits their quarterly earnings.
Dave: So then talk a little bit about the FCC and how they’re playing and maybe backing all this and what their role is.
Raj: The FCC keeps changing positions to some extent, depending on who’s in the White House. When Bush Jr. was in the White House, the chairman of the FCC was a Bush appointee who came from the mobile industries. Well, that’s what happens with every elected official. Every appointed official is somebody that the party empowered and puts on a share. Our current FCC commissioners…hell, they were appointed by presidents that we may like or not like. If they get appointed for their politics and their party allegiances, the current committee is in a tie right now. They’re not getting a lot done, but the current team is leaning more towards net neutrality, preserving open access more than the last team. So that may change in 12 months if we have a change of parties in the White House or if 1 party gains dominance in senate versus the other. So this is an ongoing battle. So every couple of months or every couple of years, the tenor of the FCC changes. Historically, they have been more for net neutrality and open access than against, but that can change on a dime depending on who is in the White House and how many open seats there are on the commission. Whoever’s sitting in the FCC ultimately listens to their boss, the president, who listens to his donors and also to the citizens. We make big enough noise, it’s going to get noticed. Use Facebook, use Twitter, used LinkedIn, and demand net neutrality, demand open access, demand we preserve the freedom of the Internet. I’d love to improve security in the Internet. I want to see a more secure Internet but not at the expense of civil rights or freedom of speed, which is what we’re talking about right now.
Dave: So you’ve used the word ‘Balkanized’ several times. Explain what you mean by that.
Raj: Well, it comes from the Balkans region of Europe, which historically has been contested and fought over by every empire from the Romans to the Greeks to the Mongols and the Huns to the Russians, the Americans, and everybody else. And as a result, this tiny, small space of the planet…what we now called Eastern Europe…has a mish mosh of cultures, languages, religion, warring tribes, warring factions that go back thousands of years. And each empire has put their own rules of the roads in play and as a result, it’s a complete mess out there. Take the US where 50 states with local, regional preference to different foods but we have a common language. We have a common currency. We have common road signs. We have lots more things in common that not. Whereas you could go to Eastern Europe. You’ve got New York and New Jersey side-by-side. They might be completely different languages, have 2 completely different religions, and if they had wars every decade for the last thousand years. So when I say Balkanized, I mean different companies or different entities: companies, governments, other entities who will break the Internet apart, enforce their rules, their language, their currency to the exclusion to everybody else. The Apple iTunes store is a great example of a New World garden. What’s the only currency allowed? iTunes credits. Who is the only governor on the Apple ecosystem? It’s Apple. They don’t like app? They can revoke it. They don’t like you? They can reject your applications. They can kick you off the network and kill you in the process. Same with Amazon and Kindle. Amazon doesn’t like your book? They can pull it off if people already paid for it. A year and a half ago where in a great show of freedom of speech, they actually pulled 1984 off of paid customers’ Kindles. You can’t make this stuff up.
Bill: That really is the key to all of this is that by seeing that for what it is…we kind of chuckle about it. But for seeing it for what it is, that really is the key point. And again it boils back to people having that information. I was going through your site a little bit and seeing that you had events up there, so I checked out a couple of things on that. Talk a little bit about what you talk about when you go out and talk to folks. I know you go in on the security level so there’s probably a thing you can and can’t talk about. But are you seeing in your industry, your fellow professionals as whole…I’m sure there’s a handful that you can talk to that have the same opinion that you do that something needs to be changed. But as a whole, do you see them agreeing or disagreeing with in their process? Or is it effecting them? That’s maybe a better way of looking at it. Is it actually effecting those folks that really have the ability to talk about the subject? Dave and I can report about it. We can get this information about there.
Raj: Most people that I speak to or present to aren’t thinking about this like you and I. They’re parents, husbands, fathers, sons, and their first job is putting food on the table. Their second job is doing whatever they do at work. Most people are not paying attention to this. And when I present, whether it’s a professional conference or to security practitioners or accounts if they’re at roundtables or to parents and I tailor my presentation and language to my audience. If I’m talking to parents, I’m not going to use the same language that I use when I talk to fortune 500 security practitioners. Most people are too focused on the day-to-day and the short-term issues than worrying about the long-term. Honestly, the biggest thing people worry about right now is either getting a job or keeping a job. If they’re parents of kids of a certain age, they’re concerned about how they keep track of Johnny or Jane and how to protect them in their future. They don’t worry about net neutrality. This is too abstract of a concept. Invent the revolution was not fought or created by a bunch of people. It was about 4 guys deciding we were going to take a stand. 100 guys joined on board, and then the revolution spread. So this is like every civil rights movement, like every change in society through history. It’s going to take a small band of dedicated fighters to launch the movement, not to fly it into the ground, and to attract everybody else or at least critical mass to shift the tide. This is where you guys stand.
Dave: Well, isn’t there a vote that’s taking place relatively soon on this?
Raj: Yeah, the SOPA bill. The Congress footballed the bill until next year, so they will vote on it again in the next Congress. And whether SOPA passes or doesn’t pass, we still have a battle in front of us. If it passes, the battle became a bit tougher, which is that we have to get SOPA revoked. Whether it passes or not, we have to educate politicians because they are completely techno clueless. There are maybe 2 or 3 senators that have a clue about technology. We have to educate our fellow consumers. Until your colleagues and mine, our friends and the people they work with understand that this is a civil rights issue and a freedom of speech issue, it isn’t going to matter. We need the critical mass on our side, and that’s where social media and your radio show and other venues like it can be a great lightning rod.
Bill: Man, I totally agree with that. I was just thinking about some of the opportunities that Dave and I have coming up in the next year and you as well going out to speak. This is something that we really have to make a point of, of sharing this information. Like you say, you have to tailor your content to your listener, but you also need to make them aware of this and at least share what’s going on behind the scenes because there’s been such a shift. And you’ve probably seen this from a security point of view, and when [someone at 45:52] talked about this and I know we keep going back to this, but he’s kind of a seer of the future. He really does it based on very basic not complex ideas. It’s really basic where he comes from, and he spoke about the security issues we’re having today on the Internet. Back when Bill Gates and all the other groups of people were working towards this new medium, he was at there forefront talking about this. I see this being the very same kind of thing that only since the AT&T breakup. That had made that possible for all this to happen. I remember the AOL days. I had no clue, no thought of process that would’ve said, “Hey, when I’m logging into AOL, I’m a part of this system that has total control.” You can really see it now if you look back and they’re still in business, so I’m sure they’re trying to still get their way into this medium. I know they have connections through Time Warner and all of the things they’ve done. I’m sure they wished AT&T had done what they’ve done because they would be sitting on top of all of this. So we really need to get out and start talking about this more and more to a lot more folks.
Raj: I can’t speak from firsthand knowledge but looking at it from the outside, I’m sure the people who were there during the breakup fought tooth and nail against the breakup. The people who run AT&T today, it’s a different business. They’re out of the business they didn’t want to be in. They’re much more competitive and a much more profitable company today than they were when they were a monopoly. And, yes, when Microsoft was fighting tooth and nail against the Department of Justice consent, they fought with tooth and nail against it. But once they lost the case with DOJ, they settled down. They turned right around and actually improved Internet security for all of us and we see that in Windows 7 and in their new products. They’ve actually done a 180 on security after getting their teeth kicked in by the Department of Justice. And whether we’re talking about net neutrality or privacy and security on the Internet, it’s not a one-time thing. It’s an ongoing battle. To me, net neutrality fits into the overall arching theme of protecting the Internet for the next 50 years for your grandkids and my grandkids. We have to create rules of the road today for citizens, consumers, corporations, and government that will define how this technology gets used for the next 40, 50 years. And we can learn from the past mistakes made by other technologies and other social concept and try to avoid them going forward.
Dave: You know, I have a 2-part question for you. But before I do that, what do you think are some of the myths that are put out there by the powers to be that want to see net neutrality fall to the wayside. That they’re kind of putting out there to confuse us or to misguide us? So what are some of the myths you see out there?
Raj: The biggest myth is it’s about a children. Anytime you hear a politician or anybody else saying they’re doing it to protect children. Yeah, the only children they’re protecting come in their wallets. And the second biggest myth is this is about national security or preventing terrorism.
Dave: And how do you bust that myth?
Raj: Well, first by saying, “No, you’re confusing 2 separate issues.” Securing the Internet has nothing to do with national security. You can’t shut down the radios, you can’t shut down television, you can’t shut down the Internet. Doing so will not prevent terrorism. We’ve had war and crimes and terrorism as long as we’ve had human civilization. And one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. If the colonists had lost the war, George Washington would be remembered as a terrorist, not as a father of this country. Today’s terrorist is tomorrow’s war hero and great statesmen. The entire war on drugs and the war on terror and the war on crime are misnomers. They’re the fund jobs of my district acts.
Dave. Okay. Boy, I enjoy talking with you. You really kind of shed some light on some of the things that people aren’t thinking about. But my 2-part question that I have for you is: When you’re talking to schools, churches, or synagogues and you’re talking to the individuals who are parenting, what’s the most frequently asked question you get from them? And then the answer to that…the second part is: because of your position and your authority, there’s always a should’ve asked question that maybe the parents should be asking instead. What’s the answer to that?
Raj: Two great questions. The usual response is, “Oh, my God. I didn’t know. The Internet is so scary. I got to go home and change my stuff.” If it’s a business owner or salesperson, “Can you help me improve my LinkedIn or my Facebook or my website? How do I get better rankings?” If it’s a parent or someone who’s not techno savvy, it’s either related to, “My computer’s acting funny. What do you think happened?” And the answer usually is, “Your computer probably got infected because you’ve got next to no security. You probably haven’t updated in a while, and you really should have somebody local to you to take care of your computer like you do your car. Have somebody come take a look at it every 3 months, change the oil, change the tires on a regular basis. Don’t wait until it’s infected and if it’s acting funny, get it looked at today or tomorrow at the latest.” And the questions parents don’t ask, “What can we do other than throw our hands up? And the answer to that is, “Learn history.” We wouldn’t be here talking today if it wasn’t for the American Civil War, civil rights, The Magna Carta, womens’ rights to vote. Every generation has a social issue of their time. Politicians have always been greedy, they’ve always been bought, presidents have always had mistresses, things were never better 50 years ago no matter how much your memory deludes you. Now that you and I are of the age where it’s our time to carry the standard. Look at the social issues of our age. There’s war, disease, poverty children starving in this country and around the world. Healthcare is an issue. And freedom of speech and the threats to it have never gone away. Speech is always under attack. It’s up to us to pick which battle we’re going to fight and then go fight for it no holds barred.
Bill: Man, Dave, that was…
Dave: Bill, before you ask your question, there’s something that Raj just said. I’m kind of curious. It’s probably a tough question because you’re so broad in your knowledge. What’s your fight, Raj? What is your top point of interest that you’ve picked and that you’re going after?
Raj: My top fight and battle I fight every single day and it’s what I speak on and do research on consistently is: improving security, data privacy, and security in every domain. Cell phones, Internet, emails, corporations, homes, you name it. Because for me, the fundamental shift is that we in the US are not a manufacturing economy. We never will be again. We are information economy, a credit economy, and for most of us our phone number, email address, and LinkedIn or Facebook page is our social identity card. Just so that social security numbers, Congress created them from 1934 through 1936…they had political battles, they compromised, and the compromise was worse than the alternative. And the problems we’re living with today with credit theft, ID theft, fraud go back down to 1934. The other is: the crimes have never changed. We’ve had identity theft in the Bible. We’ve had identify theft since we were in the caves. We’ve had burglary, rapes, robbery, fraud, arson since we were in the caves. The only thing that has changed is how fast they can steal, how many people they can steal from, and how much smarter they are than you at any given moment. And for me, protecting identity, increasing security, and increasing profits is the battle I fight for every single day.
Bill: That’s such a great answer. I think we’ll just wrap it up on that because I really think that was what we consider our 1 question. You really gave us the answer we need for this coming year and really for this decade. I really believe that this 2012 decade, Raj, is going to be the decade that sets the tone for this whole generation. It’s proven itself, through out history, that there’s a shifting point. I think we’ve really come upon that. Dave and I have seen it coming in the past few years, and I totally agree with you. I think that our security and privacy issues is always been the same. This loss of this because of convenience, people need to be aware that it’s our job as professionals in this industry to really open their eyes to this so we can get this backing. It’s going to take some rebels, and I’m sure that Dave and I are willing to fight that fight. And we have done for the past few years with our radio show, and we know you are. It’s just getting enough like-minded and good-hearted people of seeing this as being this new revolution. If we don’t fight it now, we’re not going to be able to fight it when it all changes. I think that’s what people worry about the most. The book 1984 talks about all of these social comments back to when our country was created. You brought that up as well. If those folks don’t do the good fight, nothing changed. It really is the focal point of what I see in 2012. So I think we’ll wrap our show up on that. I want to thank you for being here. I would like you to mention your blog or newsletter, somewhere where people can contact you directly. I know you’ve got event not only doing in your local area, but you’re speaking as well. I know they can find that information there as well on your blog site, so why don’t you give that to us? And then give us a good out for 2012.
Raj: Sure. So you RajGoel.com. That is my personal site. You’ll see where I’m speaking at next. Clicking on the news link, that’s where I refer to articles of interest regarding security and privacy, and it’s probably the most [something at 58:52] section on the site because I look at what’s going around on daily basis and things that catch my interest and survive the week long news cycle and remaining relevant if posted up there. Sometime I post several times a day, sometimes nothing for a week at a stretch. I don’t think you need a lot of stuff just to keep data points. And I agree with you. The whole thing I would say is we don’t have to be rebels. We just have to be civil rights champions. If we wait too long, 10 years from now when we’re having this conversation, we will need a rebellion. But right now, we just need to march for civil rights. It’s a much safer conversation. And the last thing I will say is this coming decade is going to be no different than the 40’s and the 50’s. The 40’s set the stage for the Cold War that maintained the totem through entire century between the US and China. This between a few corporations and everybody else is going to define our existence in the next 30, 40 years. The Internet is the highway where we’re either going to defend ourselves or get caught in the crossfire.
Dave: Raj, I’ll tell you what, it’s always a pleasure having you on. And for our guests who download this who are listening now, Raj will be back again. We’ve kind of set it up where he’ll come back on a quarterly basis to talk to our guests on CHW radio, the Cyberhood Watch. So just wanted to let everybody know that. And, Raj, if we don’t talk to you before the New Year’s out, have a great New Year, and we look forward to when you come back.
Raj: Same to you guys. I’ll speak to you again in less than a quarter.
Dave: Thanks very much, Raj. Bye bye.