Internet in Series vs. Internet in Parallel
There's a potentially worrisome development:
One of the things that is becoming clear, to me at least, is that the layered model (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OSI_model) the whole internet is built on, is censorship friendly. And I don't just mean OSI, but the layers in the app layer. I'll unpack.You can see the rest of the explanation on Twitter, but I'll summarize it here: The Internet currently requires numerous layers to all work together to get something through. If the censorship people can shut off just one layer, they've won. To make matters worse, if they look like they might possibly shut off one layer, the other layers might go along avoid getting caught.
This was not a problem with the classic Internet: just the computers and wires. It wasn't even much of a problem with Usenet. Today, if they can shut off the wires (what the net-neutrality people claim to be worried about), the DNS servers (what the people insisting on US oversight are worried about), the search engines, the anti-DDOS companies, the social networks, the web browsers (the most recent Firefox release sends all DNS requests to a central location), or other things I won't know about until the possemaniacs try taking them over, then they've won.
A mathematical model
If you have 1 layer and 3 providers in each layer and each provider has a 50% chance of folding in response to a possemaniac, then the probability of censorship is 12.5%.
If you have 10 layers and 3 providers in each layer and each provider has a 50% chance of folding in response to a possemaniac, then the probability of censorship is 73.7%.
Maybe the answer is more vertical integration. In other words, a web browser from a search-engine company, an operating-systems company, or a hardware company might not be such a bad idea. This also means the standard response to a potential left-wing oligopoly (break them up!) is wrong-headed.
By the way, how much would it cost to start one minimal viable company in each layer? I suspect it could be done for under a billion. So … All you need is at least one zillionaire (preferably partly retired but with some years left) … I'm sure the Koch brothers, Peter Thiel, Robert Mercer, or even Paul Allen will be up to it.