Information Control: FCC Comcast Ruling and World War III

Information ControlInformation control will be at the heart of the next major war waged between nations. None of us yet knows if the battlefield will be virtual or actual, but it’s liable to be both. From this point forward, every business person (and individual) must understand the discipline of CIA, Controlling Information Assets. That’s where the profits are, and that’s where their battles will be fought.

Take Tuesday’s decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals, as summarized here by the New York Times (emphasis mine):

A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that regulators [Sileo Note: the FCC] had limited power over Web traffic under current law. The decision will allow Internet service companies to block or slow specific sites and charge video sites like YouTube to deliver their content faster to users.

So, for example, if Comcast completes its takeover of NBC, it would have the right to increase the broadcast speed of NBC-owned programs over the web while decreasing the speed of television programs provided by competing networks. Suddenly, American Idol is less attractive to watch because of frustrating download bottlenecks that make FOX’s show inferior to NBC’s The Biggest Loser. And that is how the average viewer becomes the biggest loser. All because Comcast has been given a higher degree of information control.

It would be similar to your phone company being able to restrict all calls from states that didn’t offer its services.

Now, apply this seemingly trivial but precedent-setting decision to the political sphere. China, flexing its information control muscle, says that it won’t do business with Google unless Google agrees to filter out references to Tienanmen Square and Democracy (among other topics) on its Google China search engine. In a creepy reincarnation of George Orwell’s Big Brother, China wants to control the flow of information so that it can influence public opinion in any way it likes. Google, on the other hand, by pulling out of China, is firing their own salvo at who controls the information. So in steps Microsoft and it’s Google rival, Bing, to pick up the competitive slack. It turns out that Microsoft doesn’t mind filtering out some results, as this is what a search engine is meant to do – filter results. Information control.

Or look at the story run by NPR today, Cyberattack: U.S. Unready For Future Face Of War:

The bloody little conflict between Russia and Georgia in August 2008 lasted just nine days, but it marked a turning point in the history of warfare. For the first time ever, the shooting was accompanied by a cyberattack.

In the opening hours of battle, unidentified hackers shut down Georgian government, media and banking Web sites. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili insisted that Russia was responsible for the cyberattack, and U.S. officials subsequently said he was probably right.

The timing was propitious. Just as Russian ground troops were engaging Georgian forces in combat, the Georgian government was forced to deal with malfunctioning computer systems. U.S. intelligence analysts were convinced that the actions were carefully coordinated.

These aren’t doomsday predictions. They are a new arsenal of weapons put to play on a poorly-understood battlefield that bridges the virtual and the actual. What are you doing to prepare your organization to Control Information Assets?

John Sileo speaks on information control, identity theft prevention and data breach avoidance. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more, contact him directly on 800.258.8076.

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