Sunday, November 23, 2008

09) Net Neutrality

"We are in a war against piracy as the Internet makes it possible to have efficent spread of content" (Lessig, 17).

Main Entry: net neutrality
Part of Speech: n
Definition: the principle that basic Internet protocols should be non-discriminatory; esp. that content providers should get equal treatment from Internet operators.

Who: Largest telephone and cable companies
What: These companies want to be gatekeepers who block, speed up or slow down Web content based on its source, ownership or destination (“Save The Internet”).
Why: Money money money! Power power power!
Where: Most media coverage has been in North America, particularly the United States.
How: Privatizing the Internet by gaining control of it as much as possible. Up until now there hasn’t been a single unit or person or company in charge of the Internet.

I’d like to think that the 5 W’s are quite important features of this conflict- the facts of the conflict. To think I had never even heard of net neutrality or the increasing problems that have come with it despite the facts that if these companies were to gain this power that they want, our lives would be so dramatically changed.

What these telephone and cable companies like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner want to do is “to tax content providers to guarantee speedy delivery of their data. They want to discriminate in favor of their own search engines, Internet phone services, and streaming video -- while slowing down or blocking their competitors” (“Save The Internet”). Like we don’t have enough taxes to pay as it is! Apparently these companies have been “spending hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to gut Net Neutrality, putting the future of the Internet at risk” (“Save the Internet”).

When the Internet was first created, Tim Berners-Lee had intended it to be a neutral network. This issue has been going on since the 1930’s but it has only exploded in the last few years. One of the most important features in my opinion to know about net neutrality is how it affects you as well as others and the freedom of the Internet. According to, “such corporate control of the Web would reduce your choices and stifle the spread of innovative and independent ideas that we've come to expect online. It would throw the digital revolution into reverse” (“The Threat Is Real”).

An example of discrimination against websites by these companies is occuring already. An example is “in August 2007, AT&T censored a live webcast of a Pearl Jam concert just as lead singer Eddie Vedder criticized President Bush” (“The Threat Is Real”). Those that would be affected are small businesses, innovators, bloggers, google users, ipod listeners, online shoppers, telecommuters, parents and retirees, political groups, and non profits are only just a handful.

There is hope though, people are fighting back, people are getting the word out in all ways possible. Websites like have been protesting for about two years now. Presidential candidates like Barack Obama addressed the issue during the election, check out the youtube video below for a short clip.

This has to be a group effort in order to take these CEO’s and their dollars down. We have a freedom of speech and that should apply to the freedom of the Internet as well. We need to be more media concious of this issue, I know for a fact if net neutrality fails and these companies do start taxing us, our worlds would crash (no pun intended) because so many people, like myself included, would not know what to do without the same Internet we know today.

Work Cited

“The Threat Is Real”. Free Press: Save The Internet. 2002. 22 Nov 2008.

“Frequently Asked Questions”. Free Press: Save The Internet. 2002. 22 Nov 2008.

No comments: