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The Beginning of the End of Net Neutrality

Yesterday the Justice Department dealt a huge blow to the Net Neutrality movement by arguing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should be allowed to restrict your right to access certain websites. Net Neutrality means that you have equal access to all websites. Sounds reasonable.

Big ISPs however, would prefer to charge you more to access websites not paying them a kickback. Allowing ISPs to allow you to access only what they want you to access is just a stone’s throw from the government mandating what you can and cannot access online. With opposing viewpoints stifled, the world wide web becomes simply a bullhorn for government and big business.

Telephony and cable companies, like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast vehemently argue against Net Neutrality. They claim that providing faster access to “premium” i.e. (paid) content, provides them extra cash needed to build out their infrastructure. While the 20th century state of our broadband infrastructure is indeed putting us at a technological disadvantage relative to the rest of the world, especially the Japanese, limiting ourselves to 1% or less of the world wide web, is not the solution. Websites, like this one, in favor of Net Neutrality, will be a thing of the past.

In the past, Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras has warned lawmakers not to enact laws ensuring Net Neutrality. Just yesterday, the Justice Department stated it favors market forces, rather than legislation determining the fate of access to online content. The Justice Department went on to argue Net Neutrality regulation could slow Internet expansion and place the cost of upgrades on consumers.

The question is not who will pay for Internet infrastructure expansion. You are going to pay for it either way. The question is one of whether you are going to pay for it now, in the form of the access fees you are currently paying, or whether you are going to pay for it later, in the form of being able to access only government and corporate content.

Even if lawmakers refuse to defend the objectivity and inclusiveness of the Internet, you can still ensure Net Neutrality. Simply refuse to accept any service option that pushes “premium” content in exchange for lower cost Internet access. It’s the neto-friendly thing to do. Visit the Open Internet Coalition for more information.

Brett Trout

Posted in Internet Law. Tagged with .