Two Google brass, Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and Director of Google Ideas Jared Cohen, have co-written an interesting piece on Internet censorship in today’s Guardian. They warn that the Internet might be moving to a fragmented network, filtered and censored by regional political, cultural and religious interests. They even speculate that some states might try to build their own national intranet, completely disconnected from the global Internet. A list of examples are mentioned, including the existing elephant in the room, which is China; but also hypothetical scenarios, where former Soviet states seek to prevent Russian influence; and Arab or Sunni nations that might create a network according to their religious and cultural interests.

However, for all the imagined scenarios, they fail to mention the second elephant: the US, and its heavy handed way of forcing other nations to filter and police their net-citizen, in the interest of US content “owners”. Through international trade agreements (e.g. ACTA); covert diplomacy (e.g. Russian AllOfMp3, and Swedish Pirate Bay raid and court case, and blocking in many countries); and boots on the ground in the MegaUpload raid, to give a few examples, the US is shaping the Internet and international law in their economic interests.

Schmidt and Cohen also speculate that in the future, Internet access will require some form of “passport”, and visiting other “regions” would require an “Internet visa”. Users would be forced to register before they’d gain access, they imagine. Well, Mr. Schmidt, that is happening right now. In Germany, hotel owners have been pressured into registering, with signature, every device they let on their network, so that they are not finned for “illegal” activity of their guests. Again, it is US business interests who have forced through this kind of filtering and surveillance.

Indeed, there are many unfortunate scenarios which might remove the value of the Internet for some users. However, we don’t have to come up with hypothetical scenarios, and point fingers at “other nations”. Instead, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.