The Promise and Threat of Network Neutrality

600px-NetNeutrality_logo.svg_The Internet is a powerful tool. It levels the playing field, allowing everyone to have a voice. Using free tools like WordPress, anyone can create a website, publish ideas, and provide resources to the public. The intent of the Internet’s founding fathers and mothers was for the Internet to be open, publicly managed and free from government and business influence and control. A network that serves as an open pipe, neutral in regards to the content of the packets it carries. A neutral network.

Because the philosophy of network neutrality has been for the most part supported by at least the U.S. government, the Internet has been free to implement the will of the people, shifting paradigms in many industries (music, travel, publishing, education, entertainment, etc, etc, etc), and governments, and leveraging political and economic control away from the few and placing it into the hands of the many. A free and open Internet is the ultimate democratic tool.

A free an open Internet is a threat to those in power. It reduces the leverage and control they hold over the marketplace and citizenry. Prior to the Internet, businesses and governments could control the information that the public received. With the Internet, information flows freely. It is no wonder that the telecom industry wants to have control over the information that flows over the Internet to its customers. Information is power. Now that the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has denied the FCC the power to uphold network neutrality, the carriers have regained control over the flow of information. It doesn’t take a crystal ball to predict that once again we will see some services throttled (those that compete with the service provider), while others will flow unfettered (products of the service provider). We will also see a shifting in wealth from content providers, like Netflix, to content deliverers, like Comcast as the providers are required to pay fees for bandwidth.

It may be that the court was right and the FCC doesn’t have the legal power to enforce network neutrality. It may be that innovation is slowed by the red tape of government regulation – the innovation of carriers anyway. It looks as though the network neutrality issue will be kicked up to congress. Who do you think congress will stand by? The people or the telecom industry?

Congress Ready For Net Neutrality Standoff


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