Catchy title, no? But seriously, today’s question: Could the Internet become its own nation?
It’s surprising how little it takes to form a nation in the first place. The Internet has
- A constant population. There are people who live on it every day.
- Its own currency. While no official united money exists, quite a bit of the money in existence through the world is in electronic form anyway, and the handling fees incurred in transferring funds electronically function as a kind of exchange rate.
- A government of sorts. ICANN functions in that capacity, with other global standards boards such as the W3C acting as regulatory agencies.
- Its own languages (HTML, CSS, PHP, RSS).
- It has its own taxes (Think of your ISP bill! Price of membership…).
- And can anyone deny that it has its own culture?
Lovers of technology and communication have traditionally sought out a free niche of their own. Recently there has been Sealand, an almost-official country founded by a pirate radio operator. And recently the Swedish file-sharing website The Pirate Bay has announced that they’re in the market to buy an island for a starter nation. Internet pirates based in Sealand does sound like it was supposed to happen, doesn’t it? But if one web site wants to be its own nation, can the Internet itself be far behind?
The controversy we hear so much about on the Internet stems from countries passing laws or adopting policies which limit our online freedom. You could see the various attempts to interfere with file sharing, censor blogs, block search results, and sway elections with grassroots campaigns as the clash between the electronic nation and the many physical ones. If Netizens (keep saying it, it’ll catch on!) so often feel that they’d rather be subject to their peer’s laws than the laws of their countries, it is one step towards nationhood. How did you think countries get started?
At least declaring the Internet its own country – even one where it must co-exist with the physical countries – would help politicians deal with it more appropriately. I’m sure we of the ‘net can think of a few politicians who seem to exist in a different world from ours, let alone a different country. There are people who will simply never get the Internet – so why let them make laws ruling over it?
And what would our national anthem be? Thought you’d never ask!
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