Net Neutrality, defined by Wikipedia is
… the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication.
There has been extensive debate about whether net neutrality should be required by law. Since the early 2000s, advocates of net neutrality and associated rules have raised concerns about the ability of broadband providers to use their last mile infrastructure to block Internet applications and content (e.g. websites, services, and protocols), and even block out competitors. (The term “net neutrality” didn’t come into popular use until several years later, however.) The possibility of regulations designed to mandate the neutrality of the Internet has been subject to fierce debate, especially in the United States.
Neutrality proponents claim that telecom companies seek to impose a tiered service model in order to control the pipeline and thereby remove competition, create artificial scarcity, and oblige subscribers to buy their otherwise uncompetitive services. Many believe net neutrality to be primarily important as a preservation of current freedoms. Vinton Cerf, considered a “father of the Internet” and co-inventor of the Internet Protocol, as well as Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the Web, and many others have spoken out in favor of net neutrality.
Opponents of net neutrality claim that broadband service providers have no plans to block content or degrade network performance. Despite this claim, there has been a single case where an Internet service provider, Comcast, intentionally slowed peer-to-peer (P2P) communications. Still other companies have begun to use deep packet inspection to discriminate against P2P, FTP, and online games, instituting a cell-phone style billing system of overages, free-to-telecom “value added” services, and bundling. Critics of net neutrality also argue that data discrimination of some kinds, particularly to guarantee quality of service, is not problematic, but is actually highly desirable. Bob Kahn, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol, has called the term net neutrality a “slogan” and states that he opposes establishing it, but he admits that he is against the fragmentation of the net whenever this becomes excluding to other participants. Opponents of net neutrality regulation also argue that the best solution to discrimination by broadband providers is to encourage greater competition among such providers, which is currently limited in many areas.
Netflix a potential victim in the fight says users will fight back as pointed out in this Washington Post story
People generally think of Netflix as a potential loser in the recent court decision overturning the government’s network neutrality regulations. But on Wednesday, the company flexed its muscles in an unmistakable show of corporate power meant for Internet providers.
In a letter to investors, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells warned that if broadband providers start charging a toll for reaching U.S. Internet subscribers, Netflix and its users would revolt.
Common cause has this to say
In the last fifteen years we have seen the media change in a way that has created an entirely new dynamic. The growth of the Internet has created a new medium that allows for truly democratic participation in our democracy. Indeed, the Internet has made the First Amendment of the Constitution guaranteeing Freedom of Speech a “living document” for Americans in a way that nothing has before.
Common Cause firmly believes in net neutrality — the principle that Internet users should be able to access any web content they want, post their own content, and use any applications they choose, without restrictions or limitations imposed by their Internet service providers (ISPs).
Net neutrality is the reason this democratic medium has grown exponentially, fueled innovation and altered how we communicate. We must make certain that for-profit interests do not destroy the democratic culture of the web.
There are various ways in which the Internet has enhanced our democracy. Organizations and politicians have been benefiting from the new ability to react instantly to political opportunities and call for their supporters to take action in real time as well as much more cost-effectively. They have also found that they can promote themselves more effectively by maintaining a constant presence online as well as utilizing web 2.0 strategies such as social networking and interactive blogs. In addition, the Internet has allowed anyone with a message to reach out to millions of potential donors to support their efforts. Large numbers of small donors have allowed new political organizations to thrive and candidates that have more connection with the grassroots than wealthy special interests to run viable campaigns.
Abby Martin speaks with Matt Wood of Free Press, about a recent court ruling that will abolish FCC regulations over internet giants like Verizon and Comcast, effectively
bringing about an end to net neutrality.
A few folks are covering the news that Netflix has talked about the recent ruling tossing out the FCC’s net neutrality rules, saying in a letter to investors that it’s really no big deal. The key message is, basically, that Netflix will be watching…
What do you think?
(top photo via DonkeyHotey )