Net neutrality has been a top story in the technology news’ cycle for years now, and from die-hard bloggers to casual Internet users, everyone who enjoys the Internet in its current state now has reasons to be concerned.
Net neutrality is essentially the idea that the Internet should not be filtered or manipulated by almost anyone-including those who provide it. In the past, this principal was expected to be enforced by a heavy-handed Federal Communications Commission. Under a real neutral Internet, data would be treated exactly the same. If a real neutral internet didn’t currently exist, users like you and me would need to pay sums of money to telecommunication companies if we wanted ‘priority’ data, such as whatever it is you enjoy doing on the internet.
While we’ve seen conservative-dominated courts reduce the FCC’s power to effectively carry out its mission, we (the consumers) watched deals be cut among companies that are designed to find loopholes in the ‘free Internet’ concept.
One highly publicized deal was made by Google and Verizon, which formed an alliance between the two companies to create their own rules on how the Internet should and will work from their perspective. What exactly are Google and Verizon trying to do?
They are attempting to allow new Internet services to bypass net neutrality requirements and “beat the system” by managing their networks to the degree that they will be able to have control over the choice of blocking or allowing whatever traffic or content that they feel is acceptable. Google and Verizon are also trying to separate land line broadband Internet from wireless (cellular) broadband internet and, in so doing, keep the two from being forced to follow the same guidelines.
Ironically, Google has previously supported the exact opposite argument of separating land line broadband and manipulating web traffic for profit. Therefore, Google has come out in favor of net neutrality in the past, but that was before they had a major smartphone operating system, Android, that is mostly being pushed and marketed by none other than Verizon.
The solution to maintaining our current Internet freedoms is naturally associated with political ideology. It’s actually pretty simple. Conservatives would be against net neutrality based on the argument that net neutrality is another regulation imposed by the FCC. The neo-con ideal of smaller government would mean less regulation (fewer rules), so it’s not that Republicans and Tea Partiers would hate the idea of a completely equal Internet, they just hate the idea of more regulation. Interestingly, they call the reduction of regulation ‘net neutrality’ in itself, when in fact that’s disingenuous.
Liberals and progressives, on the other hand, would be ‘for’ net neutrality for the exact opposite reasons. They tend to be okay with the government playing a more active role in the market, therefore supporting a more imposing FCC. Thus, you’ll hear more Democrats speaking in favor of net neutrality by its standard definition.
Whether you oppose or approve of the consensus solution to maintaining ‘the final frontier’, this issue will inevitably affect you and your wireless bill at some point. Today is the opportunity to take a stand and fight for the freedoms we want to have tomorrow. The Internet in its current form might just be an idolized chapter of future generations’ history books, and in this moment, we can’t afford to take it for granted.