Net Neutrality

April 16th, 2010

Net neutrality had a set back last week, but all is not lost, I hope. It does confirm that now is the time to start caring. Your precious internetz may be turned into something nasty and expensive.

The following example is adapted from the video clip below (it’s a pretty simplified scenario, but should give you an idea of the concept at hand):

Let’s say you use Verizon for internet and your preferred search engine is Google. If we have net neutrality regulations in place, there is nothing to stop you from using Google, or changing your preference to any other search engine you choose. Now, let’s imagine that Verizon has an exclusive contract with Yahoo and thus all its subsidiaries. Verizon wants you to use Yahoo, not Google, so they will slow your connection to Google (and Google-owned companies like YouTube) so much that it’s practically unusable. Or, they may block content altogether. Either way, you will be forced to find an equivalent service within the companies with which Verizon contracts. It is the ugly side of competition, a side in which the consumer does not win.

The argument against Net Neutrality is mostly comprised of umbrella statements and political speak. “Government regulation, private property, company rights, consumer rights, blah blah blah.” The bottom line, however, is that regulation is indeed necessary in this instance. Internet access has gone beyond a household privilege to becoming a common utility used by all people, such as electricity and water. These utilities are regulated because the spirit of competition cannot thrive: we simply can’t have tons of competing waterways and power lines put out by different companies. Can you imagine if there were five competing water works in your town? They’d each have to build a separate waterway. It’s simply not possible. So regulation comes into play: there can be no competition, but the prices are required to stay consistent and access granted to all who are willing to pay.

The same concept should be true for the internet, but the catch is that the service lines were laid by the companies themselves, not public works. That is why there was a defeat last week. Should the government be able to regulate something in which they did not invest? The cable companies say no. They used their hard earned dollars to build their infrastructures, and by god America loves its private rights. Without being any kind of expert on intellectual property and media regulation, I would say that the next viable option is to go for some kind of greater good, theoretical argument for net neutrality. The FCC couldn’t prove it had jurisdiction over the lines, but it can still prove it is protecting the best interest of the people through this version of utility regulation. We need a level playing field, and the FCC should be allowed to oversee it.

Don’t be fooled by the people who emphasize the word “regulation” in regards to the FCC. That does not mean your content will be regulated. Just the opposite! It’s the Comcasts and Verizons of the world who want to regulate what you do…or perhaps a better word would be “control,” “discriminate,” and “censor.”

Check out a few of these videos and resources, which will explain the cause better than I can. You may also find it interesting that our own senator and former governor, Sen. Mark Warner, has heavily campaigned for a free and open internet.

Links
Save The Internet
Wiki
Journalists Call On FCC To Continue Working For ‘Net Neutrality’

Videos

Basic breakdown of net neutrality concept. Short and sweet, easy to follow.

Sen. Mark Warner’s message:


2 Responses to “Net Neutrality”

  1. A peek at the internet without net neutrality (*updated*) at Blog! on April 22, 2010 9:23 pm

    […] sites (torrenting, etc.), as well as any sites with which they’re not contracted. (Refer to my previous post for an example.) That’s like saying you’re paying for a cable internet connection, but […]

  2. A peek at the internet without net neutrality (*updated*) » Blog Blog on April 23, 2010 11:26 pm

    […] sites (torrenting, etc.), as well as any sites with which they’re not contracted. (Refer to my previous post for an example.) That’s like saying you’re paying for a cable internet connection, but […]

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