I got the idea for this post way back in the second week of classes when we were talking about Net Neutrality and savetheinternet.com. I didn’t know a whole lot about net neutrality so I went to the save the internet site and looked at their FAQ to see what they had to say. They define Network Neutrality as:
Network Neutrality -- or "Net Neutrality" for short -- is the guiding principle
that preserves the free and open Internet.
Put simply, Net Neutrality means
no discrimination. Net Neutrality prevents Internet providers from blocking,
speeding up or slowing down Web content based on its source, ownership or
Net Neutrality is the reason why the Internet has driven economic innovation, democratic participation, and free speech online. It protects the consumer's right to use any equipment, content, application or service on a non-discriminatory basis without interference from the network provider. With Net Neutrality, the network's only job is to move data -- not choose which data to privilege with higher quality service.
These are things that we take for granted when we’re using the internet. We assume that we are able to access any site whenever we want in a timely manner (providing we don’t have the dreaded dial up…really don’t miss that!). Now, the potential loss of Net Neutrality appears to only be an issue in the United States, but imagine that this could affect us in Canada too. Savetheinternet.com is trying to make sure that major corporations don’t manipulate the internet so consumers have to wait for some pages to load but not others and not access certain sites at all. Content providers would be taxed to “guarantee speedy delivery of their data.” This would make the major corporations make even more money (when they clearly are not lacking) and would discriminate against the smaller websites.
If those smaller sites are not able to afford the high speed that the corporations are demanding then they will slowly die out, which would be incredibly detrimental to blogging and other forms of citizen media. A lot of activist sites probably wouldn’t be accessed because no one would want to wait a long time just to view a page. Just think of all the information that would not be disseminated just because major corporations are being greedy. Do they honestly think they need to essentially tax one more thing? I’m glad that Net Neutrality hasn’t been eliminated yet (as far as I could tell) but I can’t believe that there is actually a possibility for this to happen. Actually, you know what? I’m not that surprised. Think about all the other things that we have to pay for already – telephone, cable television – it wasn’t always like that. Hidden fees (and not so hidden fees) are the way that these companies make money and they don’t care if it gouges the average user.
I suppose if I try hard enough I can understand the major corporation’s point of view, I mean everyone wants to get ahead, but I don’t think that it should be at the cost of others. We need those smaller sites to get the information that the mainstream media and government aren’t telling us. If Net Neutrality becomes extinct then there’s a good chance we could become even more sheep-like and not be able to check other sources for varying positions. If you check out this part of the savetheinternet.com site you will see what’s already been done to censor what we see or are able to access online. Do we really want any more restrictions than these, which are all sneaky and underhanded attempts at major corporations to keep conflicting ideas at bay?
I really hope that the corporations who want to get rid of Net Neutrality will not succeed. Can you imagine the life we would have if we were not able to access the information we wanted when we wanted to? I think this is a story worth keeping an eye on, especially if it ever makes it into Canada. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
Most of the information in this post came from the savetheinternet.com FAQ page. Check it out and look around the rest of the site too, it’s really interesting.