Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality can be defined as the use of the internet without discrimination or biases (which includes filtering particular content/services, degrading connection speeds to particular websites). Currently, internet access is contriolled by the users, not their internet provider, but destroying net neutrality would be beneficial to the providers for a plethora of financial reasons. A potential incentive for internet providers (cable/telephone companies) to have control over the quality of certain websites would be to encourage, or even in some cases force customers to use a certain service (e.g. net provider having their own phone service, therefore it would be in their best interest to degrade the quality of other online phone services such as Skype, leaving the consumers with no other logical choice but to change services, and thus benefiting the internet provider). Altering connection speeds also opens opportunities for the providers to charge extra fees and taxes for improved service (e.g. improved access to particular content or services would be sold, instead of all services being accessed equally – e.g. in order to use an instant messenger with good quality, the customer would be required to pay an extra fee). This idea of companies charging for improved access within an (already paid for) network connection, is commonly called “Double Dipping”. In conclusion, net providers are attempting to maximize profit at the expense of their customer’s unbiased internet access. By loosing net neutrality, internet users would result in online content being restricted and companies restricting free market competition, ensuring the richest services win, not necessarily those of the best quality. With giant corporations having complete control, customers will only have the ability to choose services and applications from a menu that is offered by each individual provider. If net neutrality is taken away, the websites that have deals with the most providers and have the most money will end up taking lead of the internet, instead of the natural cycle of the most popular websites becoming the icons of the net. All the current online icons (websites such as Facebook, Ebay and services such as Instant Messaging) all started small, and didn’t simply pay their way to the top. Basically, corporations would take control of the net and the only way to get and stay at the active would be to pay. A recently introduced bill “Internet Freedom Preservation Act 2008” is an attempt to preserve net neutrality, and if passed would help preserve the basic freedoms of the internet of which we take for granted.

-Eric Olsen

1 comment:

Corey Laub said...

the idea bout the instant messaging quality is interesting, good info