By: Darren DiMarco | Writer
April 13, 2017
The power and influence of companies over people’s lives is at an all time high as their tendrils extend further into the Internet.
A week ago, on April 3rd, President Trump approved a bill to get rid of regulations surrounding internet privacy. With this bill, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as Comcast, DirecTV, and AT&T will be able to sell personal information to the highest bidder without any form of consent needed. While it is still illegal for ISPs to hand over people’s individual information (names, social security number, medical records, etc.) to whomever they like, the passing of this bill marks a big win for ISPs and the companies to which they sell the collected data, consisting mainly of specific web searches and information on websites previously visited.
In effect, people can expect to see more aggressive targeted advertising based on their search history.
While the removal of the privacy regulations aren’t catastrophic and might even be liked by some people. Adeeb Tajalli, a junior at San Clemente High School mentions that it will generate “informed advertisements listing products of interest, as opposed to random advertisements without any consideration for their audience.” However, the way in which the bill was passed can be eyed with a good measure of suspicion. The senators and members of Congress who voted to pass the bill were mainly comprised of those who had previously received large donations from telecommunication companies during previous elections.
In short, companies, the only party who truly benefit from the passing of this bill, bought out political officials to fit their own agenda and turn an even larger profit.
The long reach of influence which companies have on the Internet and world, however, doesn’t stop there.
In the last few weeks, YouTube, the beloved video hosting platform, has begun to arbitrarily demonetize videos, or, remove ads from videos, causing the creators to no longer make any money from them, simply for the reason that “some may find them offensive.” While YouTube has always held a standard for what can be shown in a video and still be monetized, these standards have exponentially increased, imposing new regulations in order to make the website more appealing to companies who wish to advertise their products to a broad audience and without ties to anything controversial.
While YouTube doesn’t remove these videos completely, it has been a huge blow for those who make videos as a profession and has discouraged many from pursuing a career in the video-making industry. With this, YouTube’s catering to advertising has stifled creative freedom and altogether weakened the platform for the sake of hailing corporate.
Jimmy Perez, a junior and avid YouTube viewer gives his two cents on the subject when he says, “With these regulations, YouTube is becoming more like TV, but what has always made YouTube great was its difference from the constricting and expensive platform of television.”
In just the past few weeks, these companies have displayed their influence over political decisions and have put a soft censor on the previously creatively free platform of YouTube. When such companies and their greed for the all-mighty dollar gain the power to do this, the only question that remains is, “What’s next?”