Breaking Down Net Neutrality

In the near future, we will almost definitely think that the single most important technological innovation of the late 20th century was the creation and proliferation of the Internet. In spite of all of the other advances in science and technology, none of them would have happened if it were not for the amazing world-wide network which we have grown to depend on and use every day. As it has gone from something completely geek oriented to such a (gasp!) damn near necessity, it is more important that we almost foster the ideas that keep it moving forward and constantly improving it.

picture of the Web

One of the most important things about the Internet is that it is free and open. There is no major barrier to stopping anyone from starting their own web site or spreading their own ideas and influence thru social networks. No one should ever be stopped from reaching free information because one link in the chain decides they don’t want another link in the chain using it’s own part of the chain. This brings us to net neutrality. In a nutshell, net neutrality is the principle and idea that no one should have any influence on what your activities online are. This video illustrates exactly the major points of net neutrality.

On August 1st, 2008, The FCC approved an enforcement order that requires Comcast to stop interfering with it’s own customer’s use of certain peer-to-peer applications. Comcast was using technologies such as packet shaping to slow down or “shape” the bandwidth of users using peer-to-peer networks in order to render it useless. Contrary to what Comcast seems to think, using a peer-to-peer network is not illegal in and of itself. If you believe in net neutrality, Comcast should not have this right to pick and choose the access speed you can attain. If they believe that you are using their network for copyright infringement, they have legal channels they can use.

Ironically, there are some good points against net neutrality. As stated before, the Internet was created as a free and open computer network. Wouldn’t making more legislation to save it just end up hindering the openness. Some argue yes on this point. This article with one of the main architects of the Internet goes into further detail on how it would hinder the ability to properly manage all of these interconnected networks that make up the Internet.

The Internet was founded on the idea that content providers and content suppliers should not be one in the same. No matter what, we will always have these two sides cross paths. The best thing we can do is at least make sure everyone has a level playing field and no priority is given for access.

More information on the subject can be found at Save The Internet, We Are The Web, and of course, Google.

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