Luís Ángel Fernández Hermana - @luisangelfh
25 September, 2017
Editorial: 136
Fecha de publicación original: 6 octubre, 1998

He that steals a pin steals a pound

The second day of boycotts against Telefonica in favour of flat rates meant a second day of battles over numbers. These events are getting more and more like street demonstrations where police estimates usually quote half the number of participants the organisers do. The difference is that, in this case, this war of words is hardly important. What does matter is that actions of this kind strengthen growing feeling against Telefonica’s arbitrary policies and call into question many official declarations, supposedly “understanding” of the needs of internauts but as empty of real content and as costly as the notorious calls not made to Infovia which nevertheless feature on our telephone bills. What is certainly true is that over the last few months the Internet panorama in Spain, and also in the rest of Latin America, has changed substantially. Suddenly, in the fallow lands of yesterday there are bloomimg organisations, specific demands and a certain vision as to how the Internet should develop although we have only just started off down this path.

Up until now, there have been hardly any organisations on the Spanish side of the Net which represent the needs of internauts. Those that existed were so small that what has predominated was the individual anger of those of us who suffered under Telefonica’s rate policies. The coordinating committ ee emerging as a result of the boycott of the company has enough weight to become a valid interlocutor in a problem that goes beyond the mere question of the flat rate. Though the latter is something which is becoming more important all the time. On the one hand, the question of flat rates needs to be defined more clearly and, for various reasons, it hasn’t been up to now, thus detracting from the power of our message. On the other, the question of the Internet needs to be addressed in all its dimensions, distancing itself from the idea that the dispute is between Telefonica and “internauts that play on the Internet at home.” We need to convince people that what is at stake here is the way our society will take over the Internet and how it is going to make use of it as a fundamental tool of the Information Society. In this context, Flat Rates (fr) is the conveyor belt between Universal Access (ua) and Electronic Mail for All (emfa) are a threesome that should be the initial objective of any plan of action we expect from the administration.

The approach to flat rates needs to be more solid. Telefonica, as we all know well enough, never loses. It wouldn’t cost them anything, for example, to work out the average price paid by users for the exchange of data and offer the resulting figure as a great solution. In fact, I don’t think we can be accused of malicious intentions if we are given to thinking that they are waiting to see what competitors offer before turning up with the aforementioned magical offer in their hands. Recent approval in the National Congress of a flat rate had nothing to say on this score and, in addition, was dedicated to “home” users, SMEs and educational centres. The inclusion of categories of this nature only stirs up more problems in the henhouse and demonstrates that our politicians still don´t understand how the Internet works.

Senator Esteban González Pons, in an excellent interview published by Mikel Amigot in La Brujula.Net (don’t miss it), said that the Internet is a question of strategic importance to the country and signifies a historic transformation. He adds: “The ruling sector in Spain in the fields of politics, economics and journalism, are not aware of what is happening”. And what exactly is happening? Well, the fact is that the Net is on the move thanks to the efforts of its users, with their phenomenal display of innovative ideas and imaginative use of technological resources penetrating all spheres of society. This collective adrenalin rush has created a broad-based sector dedicated to the management of information and knowledge by individuals, institutions and business. In this world, it is simply not appropriate to distinguish between domestic internauts or “industrial” ones. The Net does not advance only because of what one or the other does, but as a result of the collective contributing of information, initiatives and events put at the disposal of all users.

For this reason it’s fundamental to combine the idea of a flat rate with that of universal access and e-mail for all. It makes no sense to innovate and boost development of the Information Society if society doesn’t get the opportunity to participate in it. Therefore, Telefonica’s stance and the State’s resistance to entering into a debate on the possibility of making these three principles the driving force of their policy, seems more and more weird. Offering computers connected to the Internet for all schools or other spectacular schemes of this kind only make sense if, at the same time, everyone is guaranteed the use of these resources. Otherwise, it is like offering a dinner of corn on the cob to a gathering of toothless people. As Javier Villate said in an article in Las Noticias en la Red, the actions of groups coordinated by the boycott clearly demonstrate that “The Internet is a public affair of general interest to all and of collective construction”. What we need now is everyone to believe that and provide the means to achieve this.


More information about the boycott of Telefónica on the following web sites:

Fronteras Electrónicas
Grupo Tarifa Plana
Grupo Movilización
Plataforma La Huelga
Plataforma Tarifa Plana

Translation: Bridget King.