By Avi Raz Cohen, General Manager at Hola
We all love to travel. New destinations, fresh experiences – these enhance us as people and make us better global citizens. There’s planning involved for sure, but even that can be an exciting process. Finding the right hotel or the exact tour you need can be exhilarating.
But you know what’s not exhilarating? Customs. Nobody’s passport photo is flattering, the lines are long, and by the time you make it there you’re usually dragging yourself through who-knows-how-many hours of jet lag. It’s the necessary inconvenience we all accommodate to visit other nations.
The inconvenience created by physical borders is understandable – but there’s one setting where we can and should be free of boundaries. Online it shouldn’t matter whether you’re signing on from – be it Singapore or Quito. However, for some reason, digital checkpoints and boundaries have been freely implemented, costing money and restricting information. This is in direct opposition to the original goal of the internet – to democratize access to knowledge and connect the globe. Nowadays though, this ambitious goal is restricted by the conventions of nations. And it’s even becoming less free than before. Freedom House confirmed this last year by reporting internet freedom declined for the 11th year in a row.
By accepting the framework of borders online, we create more space for individual nations to restrict internet freedom, and that impacts all of us in big and small ways. Freely available news, commerce, and entertainment may not all hold the same level of gravity, but they all matter in our daily lives.
Let’s return to travel – imagine you’re planning a trip to Johannesburg. Why should you pay a premium for booking accommodation from a Californian IP address? Corporations can exploit the artificial boundaries of the internet to turn a higher profit when you are planning, or are on, your travels. That might be a nice revenue stream for them, but it leaves you in the lurch. The same goes for entertainment. Geo-location barriers restrict users from accessing perfectly legal content, such as newly released movies or TV shows, just because of the user’s location. Certain users outside of locations such as the U.S. aren’t even given the option to pay a fee to buy or rent the latest releases due to complicated distribution agreements that freeze out large parts of the world.
Your physical coordinates shouldn’t impact how you move in the digital universe. With a borderless internet, everyone can access the full global spectrum of knowledge, commerce, and entertainment. In this version of the internet, you’re free to move exactly as you like. But what is the solution, and how do we achieve this? We see it as the tech industry’s duty and privilege to enable that free movement for all people. There is a wealth of online tools that can allow users to level the online playing field and take away internet-user discriminations that are created by digital borders. These tools must be free and accessible to all – as we’re all citizens of the internet and it’s about time we could act like it.
Brought to you by Hola