The Internet Freedom Fight

Ken AshfordScience & TechnologyLeave a Comment

The cool thing about the Internet is that nobody owns it.  Sure, you may have to pay for access to the Internet, and once on it, you may pay for various servies — but the Internet itself exists within its own realm, with little regulation and virtually no ownership by government or private corporations.  It’s a totally egalitarian world.  This has been known as "Network Neutrality", one of the guiding concepts of the Internet since its inception.

Think about that for a second, while I tell you how that may change.

Congress is planning to turn over control of the Internet to a handful of telecommunications companies (AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner, etc.).  Up to now, these companies provided the portals onto the Internet, but — by law — they couldn’t censor or regulate what you see or do.  But, if they telecoms get their way, they will be able to do that.  Want to visit certain sites?  You may have to pay AT&T to do it.  They may also create "premium lanes" where faster services are given to themselves and "customers" willing to pay premium prices.  They may force you to use their browsers, rather than browsers of your choice.  And so on.

The bottom line is this:  The Internet, as we now know it, may be a vast wasteland of mindless everything (including this blog), but it’s everybody’s vast wasteland of mindless everything.  That can change.  Read more and get active.

UPDATE:  From, here’s what may happen if "net neutrality" is gutted:

  • Google users—Another search engine could pay dominant Internet providers like AT&T to guarantee the competing search engine opens faster than Google on your computer.
  • Innovators with the "next big idea"—Startups and entrepreneurs will be muscled out of the marketplace by big corporations that pay Internet providers for dominant placing on the Web. The little guy will be left in the "slow lane" with inferior Internet service, unable to compete.
  • Ipod listeners—A company like Comcast could slow access to iTunes, steering you to a higher-priced music service that it owned.
  • Political groups—Political organizing could be slowed by a handful of dominant Internet providers who ask advocacy groups to pay "protection money" for their websites and online features to work correctly.
  • Nonprofits—A charity’s website could open at snail-speed, and online contributions could grind to a halt, if nonprofits can’t pay dominant Internet providers for access to "the fast lane" of Internet service.
  • Online purchasers—Companies could pay Internet providers to guarantee their online sales process faster than competitors with lower prices—distorting your choice as a consumer.
  • Small businesses and tele-commuters—When Internet companies like AT&T favor their own services, you won’t be able to choose more affordable providers for online video, teleconferencing, Internet phone calls, and software that connects your home computer to your office.
  • Parents and retirees—Your choices as a consumer could be controlled by your Internet provider, steering you to their preferred services for online banking, health care information, sending photos, planning vacations, etc.
  • Bloggers—Costs will skyrocket to post and share video and audio clips—silencing citizen journalists and putting more power in the hands of a few corporate-owned media outlets.