Access Control

The Internet has been down for a month now. Not fully down, but not fully free either.

It started with a few sites getting hacked here and there, every once in awhile. There were warnings by the usual conspiracy theorists, the extremity of such warnings took attention away from real threats to Internet security.

Besides, the hacks could be useful. Sometimes hacking was the only way to expose government and corporate secrets.
Of course, just like government and business, hacking in the wrong hands could send us back a few decades. This is that time.

Anyone can still read what’s being published, but no one wants to. The government tightly controls the Internet. Google searches are only allowed for a narrow set of keywords. Only a small fraction of sites are even allowed to show up in the results. Those sites are in bad shape and are owend by the Few – a small number of people who have cozy relationships with government.

Every update to Facebook and Twitter must be approved. The backlog is insane. No one knows if their comments have been rejected or are still in the queue.

About once a week, the rebellion manages to attack the government’s controls and publish updates about their efforts. The infrequency of the updates makes organizing people to fight the Few a slow and tedious effort.

(If you’re reading this, it’s because you’ve either found my journal or you’re privy to a few pockets of communication the rebellion has managed to open up undetected. I obviously can’t reveal what those are so as not to tip off the government.)

Everyday life has been turned upside down. People have stopped going to their jobs and makeshift markets have taken the place of shopping centers. So much of normal life had become based on the Internet. Every financial interaction involved a connection to the bank. Most people have taken to bartering since they didn’t have large amounts of cash when the Internet went down. Even if you had enough cash, it was useless in a society that suddenly no longer ran on it. Plus, earning additional money is difficult without payroll systems.

Oddly some who earned low salaries before are doing better now. Everyone wants to keep their children educated, for example. So a teacher’s bartering value is quite high.

Speaking of children, they’re handling things the best out of any age demographic. Kids will play all day with something as simple as a cardboard box. Their imaginations do the rest. And they’re skilled negotiators, which makes sense when you consider that they’ve been living a currency-less existence. They already knew how to trade games, candy, and toys with each other. Now, it’s not uncommon for parents to bring their kids to deal in a barter between two parties.

I don’t know what happens next. Our only chance is that the rebellion finds a way to dismantle the Few. The goal is to do this without violence. That would require a massive grassroots effort. Unfortunately, the fear is that most people will simply work for the Few, in order to provide the basic necessities for their families. If this happens, any last bit of control the people had over their only lives through bartering will be gone. But since entire food and health distribution systems have been disrupted, many will have no choice. Still, I hold on to hope that a peaceful rebellion can be achieved.