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African Union Shuts Down Online Slave Market

„All my neighbours and friends were present on that website," Lucas Freeman, 26, remembers, „so I was as well. But then I found that when I said I would not miss the additional online friends I have never met I was taking a minority position. Not everyone thought that these associations might never get real. Now that they turned out to be dangerous I am glad that the loss of illusion has not hurt me."
Freeman said the phoney encounters mirrored the secret police system of a totalitarian state except that people were to choose themselves what they would write into their own and each other's surveillance files, because they were being kept for commercial rather than for political stability purposes. These individuals who leaned their souls upon phoney personalities whose real life existence they could not verify were then without their knowledge or consent being traded as slaves manipulated by the designs of what many came to call their big brothers.

For registration to the trade, victims were lured with the allegation that in order to be able to talk to their friends, family members and neighbours they were required to fill in a face book modeled on a 20th century CIA propaganda campaign design. The data was then stored on rental servers chosen by an algorithm configured to pick host countries with few or no legal protections against human trafficking. For example, victims from Burkina Faso found their data being hoarded in the Central African Republic where they cannot sue for removal from the register because the legal system recognises fewer consumer rights as to attract investors.

An anti-trafficking task force official installed by the AU summit in Lagos rejected rumours of censorship and explained that the shutdown was not directed against people sharing information on themselves and each other. Rather it was the centralised collection and exploitation of such information which had triggered concerns. He added that if the operational monopoly on the directory would have been on 20th century image processing technology many had used for the same purpose tat the time, anti-trust watchdogs would have blown the whistle long ago. But since it was a virtual reality bastion it went unchecked up to now.

Most of the slaves were purchased by corporations for the consumption of their products. Once people were willing to follow digital aliens, they could be programmed for just about anything, a trade insider said, and you would be surprised bow many are unsatisfied enough with their daily life associations sufficiently helpless to change them as to fall for the traps of personalised marketing. "In a free society," internet activist Lucas Freeman said, "it is just as unimaginable that there would be different product catalogues for different people as that there were different law books for us."

"People might pick different parts of the library, but the content is the same for all, as it is expressed by the idea of public knowledge." Freeman added that stealth human trafficking efforts masquerading as so-called social media contradict the pioneer spirit of the internet because they mirror the centralised design of the phone network - every connection in the city is going through the same switch room, for the big payers to pick from them like in a shop. In contrast, the internet enables direct connections avoiding the surveillance bottleneck trap and there is no necessity for a message from Windhoek to Adis Abeba to travel via another continent.

Freeman said the transnational monopoly sites on the internet contradicted the architecture of freedom which would allow even the smallest village to pass their internal messages from neighbour to neighbour and decide freely whether it discloses to anyone who reads which subscriptions coming in from the outside world. He maintained that it was not that the information shared was to be censored from the internet, be it text, imagery or footage, but that it was to be structured differently.

"Why is there one big online community? Why not many small communities each on their own who interact on the same protocol that is not for sale as to make the people depending on it not for sale as well? Corruption is not an argument. It is a danger. The narrow implementation of so-called social media as it exists today is like a library whose entire content is printed on one big page with no meaningful structure."

Like a deserted landscape, such an application is disabled in most of its potential purposes and can only be used for mining. In this aspect the stealth slave market sites represent a hopeless and ruined world. Others have compared them to factory barns where livestock is being produced in series for consumption. All these analogies are pointing to the human rights violations luring in the idea to sacrifice most of the broad usability to one narrow purpose.

"The internet is meant to be decentralised" Freeman added. "That is why it becomes inefficient once centralised. This is the source of the rumours that it might have been a military invention, although it was in fact invented by service-evading nerds playing practical jokes on the centralised inefficiency of the bureaucracy they came to despise. The pity is only that computing technology developed quicker than the human brain and today the surplus inefficiency that once was big enough to enforce a decentralised structure by lack of alternatives today is not any more."

"For example, if a hundred people from a village order a pizza from the internet, you will have a hundred small cars from town clogging the road link and spoiling the air instead of a local baking party served by one van. That is why the totalitarian internet infrastructure investment is such a waste of resources, even when it adds surface level pooling. We don't need no extra glass fibers for our recipes to go over a central government desk on their way neighbour to neighbour. The Lagos Verdict is a good start."

"For a smooth transition, we need to shut down the monopoly sites not by pulling the plug but by fixing the edge. Do you remember how you fixed the edge of these old-fashioned floppy disks in the last century to make them read only? Monopoly sites should be frozen read-only for an appropriate transition period to allow inmates migrate to smaller and more self-reliant communities, until only the fake characters remain for liquidation."

He argued that these teething troubles of the net on its way to an all-generation tool mirrored earlier industrialist aberrations, such as the large housing complexes developed at the height of the oil rush that under slightly shifted economic circumstances degraded into anti-social frenzy cesspools before they were shut down by later expressions of the same short-sighted neoliberalism. These failed architects then went on to spoil the cities with emergency monstrosities like the worldtradecenter buildings. According to Freeman, at least this last stage of the mistake did not require to be repeated in the internet age.