Caption: Musk's destiny as a Bond villain is realised. He just needed Connery dead.
Prompts: wild west mentality
Sure, all tech has some fine print we overlook. But something as widely celebrated as Starlink's anywhere, grand-speed internet has a doozy.
And the implications are out of this world...
Starlink's satellite constellation has begun beta testing after a long haul of launches since May 2019.
The beta test, named "Better Than Nothing", hopes to achieve 50-150 megabits per second. However, Starlink in earnest projects gigabit download speeds at low latency to anyone with open sky above them.
We're not sure if the ironic beta test name is referring to the widely available internet - as most people either have internet or nothing. Or, it's a purposeful understatement that gigabit downloads are "Better Than Nothing."
But if you want these speeds, you have to sign the Starlink terms of service, as first seen by "WholeMarsBlog" on Reddit. Section nine of the Starlink terms of service require users to agree: "no Earth-based government has authority or sovereignty over Martian activities."
SpaceX also notes that services provided around Earth and the moon will follow the laws of California, US. But Mars?
That's the wild west as far as Musk is concerned.
"For Services provided on Mars, or in transit to Mars via Starship or other colonization spacecraft, the parties recognize Mars as a free planet and that no Earth-based government has authority or sovereignty over Martian activities. Accordingly, Disputes will be settled through self-governing principles, established in good faith, at the time of Martian settlement."
SpaceX’s terms are, at the very least, ignoring the international laws of space made nearly 60 years ago.
The particularly alarming wording comes days after Musk was in the news again for saying most of the first human settler on Mars will die much sooner than on Earth.
But, they do get to build a Martian city by the year 2050, so it's not all bad.
He also has strong ideas on taxes.
Plus the good news SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell revealed last week: a Starlink service for Mars too.
Musk commented in 2018 about the type of government he wants for Mars. He predicted the city would operate on a "direct democracy" much like the early days of the United States.
He said: "Everyone votes on every issue and that’s how it goes." He added, "There area few things I’d recommend. Keep laws short. ... something suspicious is going on if there are long laws.”
In August this year, his viewpoint hadn't changed.
Direct democracy. Short, comprehensible laws voted on directly by the people.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 20, 2020
Like most beta tests, it's a possibility that Starlinks terms as of now do not make it into the final version before expected launch (pun intended) in Northern America by the end of the year. The northern hemisphere will gain access by the end of 2021.
It must be mentioned that Musk is known for Easter Eggs and inside jokes.
Could this be one of them?
On first glance, we have to say it is.
After all, the beta has an obvious parody of the much hated Microsoft word mascot "Clippy" named "Dishy". He's - you guessed it - a satellite dish.
Plus, if you follow Musk on Twitter you know he loves being a troll.
It's hard to imagine Starlink using a covert means of undermining international laws and treaties, but...
If this was a mini-PR stunt to draw attention to Starlink, he got us.
Seriously. How many people are out there willingly sharing their internet providers terms and conditions?