Against (Forced) Net Neutrality

Image credit: George Hodan at Public Doman Pictures.net.
Image credit: George Hodan at Public Doman Pictures.net.

I love the internet. Not just because it allows me to keep up with the Royal baby or find ridiculous jokes to parrot (although I do that sometimes too). I love it because it puts nearly the entire store of human knowledge at our finger tips. I love it because it lets us communicate, organize, and share ideas with people who maybe in the next county or on the next continent. I love it because it can bring us into contact with some of the best and brightest people in the world. Prior to the twentieth century, ideas traveled at a mind-numbingly slow pace. You had to be in the right place at the right time to hear the latest and greatest news from the scientific, artistic, or literary communities. Now, thanks to the internet, all of these great ideas are (often literally) sitting across the table from you. Just the other day, Elie Wiesel came to my house to talk about literature, truth, and other small issues like those. A while before that, I attended a concert given by Jascha Heifetz. The week before that, Ray Bradbury sat right there in my bedroom and taught me how to write. If we only had the drive to put it to use, the internet could usher in the greatest intellectual renaissance in history.

But that can only happen if we, the idea-makers, control it. Who controls the internet right now? I would say its users. They develop the content for it and they decide what content becomes successful or fails. There’s no velvet rope to get past. Anyone with an internet connection is free to jump in and start creating.

That’s why I am against net neutrality. I know, it seems contradictory: why wouldn’t I want all content to be equally accessible to everyone? I do, but I want the owners of the internet to make that happen, not the government.

In case you’ve been completely ignoring the news for the past few weeks, the federal government hopes to introduce new regulations to the internet to ensure that internet service providers (ISPs) are not charging websites to have their content delivered faster to customers. The idea is to force internet providers to handle all traffic equally, instead of giving preference to the sites that pay more. At first, I thought it was a good idea simply because I didn’t like the thought of someone possibly limiting my access to the content I want in favor of things I’ll probably never want. But the more I think about it, the less I agree with the pro-net neutrality argument. An ISP is a business, just like a restaurant or a store: if restaurants and stores get to choose what food to serve or what items to keep in stock, why should it matter if internet service providers pick and choose what content to deliver the fastest? Of course, it could become an inconvenience to the people who want to access that content, but that’s the beauty of the free market: there are dozens of other ISPs to choose from. If one company does not deliver certain content as fast as it once did, your options are open.

Forcing net neutrality would be the first set of government regulations ever imposed upon the internet. We’ve all heard complaints of how government regulation slows down progress in the business world: imagine if the world of the internet was bogged down by similar regulations. One of the things we prize most about the internet is the fact that it is ever-changing. It updates and improves (or rather, it usually improves) as fast as the idea-makers and internet owners wish. Imagine if all of these internet providers had the threat of government intervention looming over their heads every time they wanted to try something new.

As it stands now, the internet, as far as I can tell, is not in any peril of being overrun by greedy ISPs. We are all still free to create, share, and innovate as we please. And that’s how we should keep it.

I know this isn’t a political blog, nor do I want a political blog, but I thought I should air my feelings on the subject, seeing that we’re all readers and all readers love and cherish free expression.

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7 thoughts on “Against (Forced) Net Neutrality

  1. Wait, you confuse me. Are you a user or an “idea person”? What’s the difference other than perspective? You may only be living off it’s “entertainment” right now while those who started like you jumped into programming and producing content. Maybe you will be working with the next Google and someone will be speaking like you are now about the old…present you.

    The problem with all of this “get it now, faster and free” mentality going around is people become lazy and demanding, and those with the programming power will use this against the “consumer” to profit and cause uprisings which will only fuel the madness further. As some say, bad reviews can be as beneficial as good ones.

    So, while we who get excited by all the liberty of the internet suddenly run into red tape and closed doors, let’s remember what we had before we had the internet. How did we live? We just did. Let’s not depend upon the drug that draws us out of the shadows. Let’s be more like Dr. Seuss supposedly wrote once. Don’t cry because it’s ruined/gone. Be glad it happened, and move on when it’s gone. Don’t fight the current. And, don’t get carried away with it.

    I don’t see many ISPs, at all. I see two empires, one lousy, and a bunch of wannabe services handling “independent voters” and “vegan hippies” maybe. I don’t know. But, I don’t see options, anymore.

    The people with the most money will buy up the idea makers and rule the world like Disney buys up the work everyone else made and makes it their own.

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    1. Yes, there is always the chance that the internet could be taken over and made more exclusive, like publishing, Hollywood, or any other form of media. But that doesn’t mean it has to. To be honest, I doubt that the freedom of the internet will last unto all eternity too, but we don’t need to bring on the restrictions any faster than they are already coming.

      When I said there are lots of options open when it comes to ISPs, I was thinking mostly about people who live in places similar to mine. However, I realize now that in bigger cities, there are often fewer options than there are in other places. Still, I imagine that if the big internet companies were to begin slowing access to certain sites, that would open up the market for other companies to come in, so even in those areas, it might still foster competition.

      And about the difference between “users” and “idea-makers,” I was using the terms interchangeably, since sometimes, the people who profit most from the internet were just regular old Joes who decided to put up a webpage or a Youtube video, etc., but I see how that might be confusing.

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      1. The way I see it, you’re either the cattle or the cattle prod-er. And, if you or I are not running the cafe here, we’re still cattle. It’s only matter of time before we’re another hamburger or steak on someone’s plate. But, if we join up with the ISP or website legions, we might wear a “swastika” and make things happen instead of venting or rebelling when the tides turn against us and make us want to “moo.”

        I suddenly feel like Naomi Judd in that movie where she compared men to cows.

        I don’t know which I like better, the term competition or monopoly. Neither feels content and good to me. One breeds haste. The other breeds an inflated ego. And, if I’ve learned anything about reputations posted publicly, it’s not to trust the praises. The best are the quietest. Yet, that’s also where many thieves still lurk.

        Does that make sense? I just go on tears sometimes.

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        1. So what you mean is either you can allow yourself to be controlled by others, or you can sell your soul and do the controlling? I’ve never really thought so. I’m probably not as vocal as I ought to be–actually, scratch that: I’m NOT as vocal as I ought to be, but I’ve never thought it was a good idea to take everything lying down. There are plenty of places for people to have their say and let people know what they believe, and I for one believe people should take full advantage of these. The things we say and do may have very little effect, or even no effect at all, but it’s better to have tried and failed than to have never tried in the first place.

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        2. That first line, basically. Yep, that seems to be the way of this material world. Be the patsy or make someone else your patsy/slave. It’s still the old predator and prey system nature provides with other species. It’s just mankind and all “his” vanity that makes us think otherwise. Curse the apple.

          If you think there’s some alternative or middle of the road, more power to you and whoever you are fortunate to huddle with for a time. Rubbing your hands together and sharing loving thoughts, you may survive in your bliss of ignorance. But, the powers that be seem to lay out these two sides, the controlled and the controller. And, to avoid being controlled, people side with or become soldiers of the controller. Just look at that old Disney movie “Black Hole” and those mindless slaves behind the bubble masks and cloaks. That’s what I fear is the future of internet-kind. That is how I suspect Disney “swallows” the talents of other enterprises and makes them part of the empire. And, like them, there are a dozen internet/app empires in their wake.

          Oh, you can have your say, sure. Go ahead and moo. But, until you sway the power or have the power, you’re still cattle. And, rebels just ask for war which can be quite messy if they don’t use diplomacy.

          I never said take anything lying down. But, if you’re going to go against the grain, you’d best pick your paddle and rivers wisely. And, know that it boils down to numbers but also loyalties. And, sadly, in this materialistic world. people are still acting loyal to money as a form of order.

          The money and numbers in power will eventually squash whatever rebellion there may be unless the rebels go “Planet of the Apes” on the “machine.” And, in such a case, I am not sure we can handle the casualties as easily as the movies do. Or, will we just care less to get “our way”?

          Is this a cycle?

          And, I never said don’t try either, in case you think that. But, the opposition wears us all down at some speed. Eventually, many if not all get tired of fighting, even those who swore allegiance to the power.

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