Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Importance of Net Neutrality

"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."

After reading and watching this week's material on the Net Neutrality debate, I would have to say that I would agree that keeping the Internet free from regulation from wirless and wireline providers.  By allowing provides to restrict and/or charge for specific internet applications we rob the Internet of what I believe to be its intent-to facilitate the flow of information and to inspire the technological creativity of the public for the betterment of human society.  The Internet has created new avenues of communication and technological innovation that has become invaluable to our nation and the world, both socially and economically, that would never otherwise have been possible.  Allowing users to access the full range of Net applications only advances the growth of the Internet and all of its capabilities without favoring specific sites or applications.  John Borthwick notes in, Neutrality or Bust, that "the lack of basic rules of the road for what network providers and others can and can't do is starting to hamper innovation and growth." If innovators become stifled, valuable creations may remain in the realm of the unknown. Would there be a Google today if such restrictions by providers were implemented in the past?

In his article FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules, Brian Stelter quotes President Obama as saying that with the passage of new rules protecting the Neutrality of the Net (December 2010) "The Democratic spirit of the Internet remains intact."  If Internet providers are allowed to regulate which programs or applications their customers can use, they effectively take away our democratic right to the free domain of the Internet.  Apparently the FCC and the Federal Government both agreed.  Matthew Lasar, in his article It's Here: FCC adopts Net Neutrality (see 'net neutrality order' link in his article AT&T/TMobile)notes that the new Neutrality laws are "based, in part, on the Telecommunications Act [of 1996] which requires the FCC to encourage the deployment of advanced telecommunications to all Americans."  Clearly, even in the early stages of the global phenomenon know as the Internet, the powers that be deemed it necessary to protect the democratic rights of people to be able to access all "advanced telecommunications" and, as Borthwick describes, "the freedom to create...and evolve ideas" free from restriction of service providers.  Let us hope that these laws can remain in place.

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