Monday, January 3, 2011

Free speech and the internet?

Logo for NetNeutralityImage via Wikipedia
I guess you really need a PhD in Political Science to take something as simple as Net Neutrality and turn it into some complicated, hole laden piece of legislation. They're going to take one of the most simple and beautiful creation's (the internet), and turn it into some money hungry beast that take's a bite out of you every time you log-on. Access to the internet need's to stay simple. Give me a fast, stable connection to the "WHOLE" internet. Leave the internet alone for me to explore, search and discover as I always have.

 Don't, don't, don't...speed up access to a certain content provider's because they can afford fee's that other's may not. I might not ever come across that little hole-in-the-wall restaurant with rave reviews, or that quirky clothing store, or the mom & pop electronic store because of major chains paying to get preferential placement or throughput. Or...worst yet, some of our content providers either can't or wont pay the fee's and will slowly die out, leaving us with fewer choices. Don't narrow our choices further by charging us a fee to "get-on" then charging us or the content provider a fee to get to the information we want.

 It's simple...charge me what you need to charge me to get me on. But once I'm on....leave me alone. I'll find my own way.
Amplify’d from
We need to make access to information on the Internet a basic human right; otherwise, the rights we've enjoyed for centuries will melt away, buried under miraculous technology controlled by robber barons with dollar signs dancing in their heads.
This is what the ISPs want in both the wired and wireless Internet worlds. If we let it happen, we'll get exactly what we deserve: all our information spoon-fed to us by faceless corporations that have nothing to do with anything other than the fact that they think they can.
This is the crux of Net neutrality. Soon, all media will go through the same high-bandwidth pipes. That even applies to today's print newspapers and magazines. Once they go fully digital, there will be vanishingly few ways to access that content without an Internet subscription and a computer.
Look at the cautionary example of television. It used to be that you purchased a TV once and the signals you received flowed freely through the air. This is still true, but over-the-air TV is not anywhere near as common as cable, satellite, or fiber-based television. The majority of Americans pay not only for their televisions, but also for access to the content unavailable over the air -- content produced by an increasingly small number of creators.
A call to arms for Net neutrality
As I noted in my Dec. 21 post, the FCC's Open Internet Order is a bad omen for Net neutrality. In response, we need to push much harder in the opposite direction. We must work toward establishing unfettered Internet access as a right similar in status to that of First Amendment free speech. After all, the Internet is the conduit through which free speech is and will be heard for the forseeable future. If we allow corporations to control access to that speech, it might as well not exist.
The questions in the Rasmussen poll could have been lifted from The Onion. They're not about an open Internet; the people responding just think they are. Here's a sample: "What is the best way to protect those who use the Internet -- more government regulation or more free market competition?" Whoever came up with loaded questions like these knows exactly why they're worded that way.
The New Year is upon us, and I still can't stop running dystopian Net neutrality scenarios through my head. Maybe that's because -- in the wake of the FCC's sorry compromise, ironically named the Open Internet Order -- I keep encountering confused, misinformed coverage of the issue. You can see the effects in polls like this one from Rasmussen. But don't blame the respondents; blame the questions they were asked.

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