Saturday, September 29, 2012

Internet Freedom

What is Net Neutrality

When we log onto the Internet, we take lots of things for granted. We expect that we'll be able to access whatever Web site we want, whenever we want to go there. We expect that we can attach devices like wireless routers, game controllers or extra hard drives to make our online experience better.
What makes all these expectations possible is "Network Neutrality," the guiding principle that preserves the free and open Internet. Net Neutrality means that Internet service providers may not discriminate between different kinds of content and applications online. It guarantees a level playing field for all Web sites and Internet technologies. But all this is being threatened by major corporations. The biggest cable and telephone companies would like to charge money for smooth access to Web sites, speed to run applications, and permission to plug in devices. These network corporations believe they should be able to charge Web site operators, application providers and device manufacturers for the right to use the network. Those who don't make a deal and pay up will experience discrimination, meaning their sites won't load as quickly, and their applications and devices won't work as well. Without legal protection, consumers could find that a network operator has blocked the Web site of a competitor, or slowed it down so much that it's unusable.

The network owners say they want a "tiered" Internet. If you pay to get in the top tier, your site and your service will run fast. If you don't, you'll be in the slow lane.”
The problem here is that this is discrimination to those websites that cannot and do not want to pay. The Internet was designed as an open medium. The fundamental idea since the Internet's beginning has been that every Web site, every feature and every service should be treated without discrimination. That's how bloggers can compete with CNN or New York Times for readers. That's how aspiring musicians can build underground audiences before they get their first CD. Discrimination endangers our basic Internet freedoms.
The free-flowing Internet as we know it could very well become history. This means we could be headed toward a pay-per-view Internet where Web sites have fees. It means we may have use an advanced search engine just to find a website without a tax. The next generation of inventions will be shut out of the top-tier service level. Meanwhile, the network owners will rake in even greater profits.

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