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"Backlash!"

Something serious is building up on the Internet. I'm not talking about the Netscape vs. Microsoft thing, or any other hype. I'm talking about a major event which will change how everything on the 'Net functions.

I consider myself very knowledgeable of the Internet and I don't believe in that whole 'Net crash nonsense. Try asking one of these soothsayers how they think the 'Net will somehow collapse (how that can happen with thousands of individual servers is beyond me) and they won't be able to tell you. They just like to talk trash about things which are succeeding. The people who will give you an example of a 'Net crash only manage to describe the clogging of bandwidth which happens every afternoon. Doesn't it piss you off that journalists and "experts" make money off telling others about things they have no clue about?

Anyway, the Netizens (of which I am a member) are factioning themselves off more and more from the rest of the 'Net population. On many of the newsgroups and forums I peruse, the long-time 'Net users are distancing themselves from the over-hyped and newbie-infested areas. On the HTML newsgroups, people are less willing to help out newbies and categorize them as those who jump on the infosuperdupercalifragilistic highway. Long-time users no longer participate in public forums and stay in their cliques. These folks are getting tired of the new users logging in and ruining "their Internet". I don't think there's a problem with new users, myself, although having to forward unsolicited e-mail advertising from AOL/GNN/Netcom users is ticking me off. But you can see how the experts are staying on 'their 'Net' and are leaving the new users on the businesses' 'Net.

Hacking has increased overwhelmingly as of late. The Unamailer, johnny xchaotic, mail bombed dozens of e-mail addresses of prominent figures such as Ross Perot, Bill Clinton, Howard Stern, and Rush Limbaugh. Some ISPs were SYN-flooded by hackers who were apparently disgruntled with the service. SYN-flooding means the server is being pinged with unreturnable packets, so the server's CPU time is used up and it is too burdened to worry about users logging in. The web pages of the Department of Justice and the CIA were hacked and replaced with messages exaggerating censorship. Many more cases have shown up as of late, often with political messages attached, inferring, "Don't touch our 'Net. The emphasis is on 'our'."

In a strange way, I support these hackers. They are making sure the government and companies realize that everyone is on the computer experts' turf. The government will have to understand that it cannot regulate the Internet because the Internet regulates itself. And the 'Net views the government as something which must be policed. I do not advocate destruction of information or replacing web pages, but no true hacker does, according to the hacker ethic.

When I see another incident of a hacking, I chuckle. You have to admire the hackers who possess all this knowledge which allows them to do just about anything they want, but they have not abused it until now, when the time and situation was appropriate. I see the government working for naught as they have been outsmarted by the hackers. The government has found something it cannot control, and it hates that fact to the extreme.

Don't get me wrong. I support government intervention to protect perfect competition as much as possible, so that monopolies and left-handed tactics cannot be employed to ruin other companies. But when the government begins to think that it can control everything, even that which is not commercial, I take the opposing side. I'm not paranoid about the government at all (it's too disorganized to do anything on a large scale), but I know for a fact that the high-ranking officials have lust for power over us simple-minded citizens.

All these events are building up to something, and I'm not sure what. The government may attempt to censor the Internet and it will pass some sort of bill which allows it to. But then the Netizens will gather together and there will be an active protest, much more than changing web page backgrounds to black. I do not know much beyond the bare basics of the hacking community, but I have to wonder what it could do if it had a good enough reason to trash its opponent and secure the Internet for those who truly believe in freely-distributed information. The Internet could quickly reform itself into a world set up by voluntary acceptance of standards set up by Web consortiums or it could turn into a free-for-all wasteland. The 'Net could have extreme security provisions to keep unwanted people out, all of this happening rapidly. But I can guarantee you that the government will never be the one making the decisions for the Internet.

Tension is growing and people are worried. The Internet's backbones are stressed out and ISPs are beginning to crack down on those spammers who don't conform to the unwritten laws of the 'Net. When will the rubber band snap?

Step lightly, my friends, for a cyberbattle is coming soon. I can smell it in the air like the warm, musty smell of blood wafting from a battlefield as you approach it. One day you'll wake up and everything will be different.

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