The Internet is free right? Okay maybe a better question to ask is: How free is access to the Internet? Are some websites/companies favoured more in regards to granting/restricting access to their content? Well to answer all these questions I will explore the idea of Net neutrality. Don’t know what net neutrality is? Well your in luck as I am about to give you the rundown, your welcome.
Net neutrality is a term that defines a paradigm where Internet service providers (ISP) should enable access to all content and applications regardless of their source, and avoid favouring or blocking particular websites or applications. Here ISP companies, would not hold centralised control over information flows on their network, but rather promote equality of access for big and small companies alike. Still not getting it, here is a visual representation of just that, for all those visual learners out there.
I believe information networks such as the Internet are more efficient and useful to the public when there is equality of access and no discrimination between content and providers. When commercial companies or governmental bodies threatened to restrict or diminish notion of ‘free culture’ (Lessing 2015) on the Internet, citizens, or more accurately ‘netizens’ (citizens of the internet) start to panic and retaliate.
Earlier this year 4 million people wrote to the FCC with overwhelming support of a free and fair Internet, netizens had united under one common cause (Grow 2015). Like myself, countless others spoke on social media, and some even petitioned their local governments. The netizens were standing up for what they believed.
For me it was all about the idea of control, I was against ISP and commercial bodies having the permission to control what I can view while accessing the Internet through their infrastructure (Gutelle 2014) On the other hand I wasn’t for suggestions that the government should control and monitor citizens access to the internet as this prompted ideas of online surveillance and governing bodies having access to our data, the whole “big brother is always watching” running through my mind.
Additionally, I was already aware of the unsettling kinds of control governing bodies have, with the implementation of what Campbell calls “tethered appliances”, the term referring to surveillance capabilities being incorporated into everyday technologies such as GPS and digital video recorders, PC, TV’s etc (Campbell 2015).
I wondered what the future without net neutrality would look like, probably similar to Tim Berners-Lee’s description of a ‘nightmare situation filled with discrimination and control’ (Hiat 2007,). The question about the Internet’s future, and its facilitation of a ‘free culture’, along with speculations on who will control the internet in the future still remains to be seen, and is constantly debated to this day.
Campbell, C 2015, The net neutrality scam: Government control is not athe solution, accessed 1 September 2015, http://lfb.org/net-neutrality-scam-government-control-not-solution/
Grow, K 2015, Net Neutrality: FCC Votes to Keep Internet ‘Fast, Fair and Open’, accessed 2 September 2015, http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/net-neutrality-fcc-votes-to-keep-internet-fast-fair-and-open-20150226
Gutelle, S 2014, Will ‘Net Neutrality’ decision hurt Youtube and Netflix, accessed 2 September 2015, http://www.tubefilter.com/2014/01/15/net-neutrality-decision-youtube-netflix/
Hiat, B 2007, Q&A: Tim Barners-Lee, accessed 1 September 2015, http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/tim-berners-lee-20071115
Lessing , L 2015, Free Culture, accessed 2 September 2015, http://www.authorama.com/free-culture-4.html