In Support of Net Neutrality

Here's what I posted on the FCC's Net Neutrality debate site. Please feel free to comment!

Net neutrality is a nuanced subject. I completely support the concept of leaving the Internet open and fair. Perhaps one of the best aspects of the Internet is that the barrier to someone creating a new website or company is very small. Anyone with a connection should have the ability to create something that anyone else can view. We should strive to preserve this aspect of the Internet, as it is fundamental and largely what has made the Internet what it is today.

However, my faith in the US legislative bodies to produce laws that would maintain this without negatively affecting the situation is pretty small. That we have Congressmen and Senators that are not capable of reasoning about the Internet and its operation in terms beyond big trucks and tubes is most worrying.

Still, opposing a law against net neutrality simply because it might limit "innovation", as the ISPs would have you believe, is not good enough. I can't think of many large innovations brought on by the ISPs in the last 5 years, unless you consider bandwidth caps and protocol blocking innovations. My Comcast cable connection is only marginally faster than when it was first activated, many years ago.

Another large factor is that ISPs are, by and large, local monopolies. I believe that Internet access is becoming increasingly fundamental, approaching the level of utilities such as electric and water. To say that the "market" will be able to decide what is right in terms of Internet access is ignorant. Many people have only one choice for broadband Internet access. For this reason, it is important for there to be some form of oversight to determine when there have been abuses and what can be done to correct the situation.

To summarize, here is my list of concepts that I consider to be fundamental to the Internet.

1) Fair. Traffic traveling over the Internet should be treated in a uniform matter regardless of source, destination, or protocol. Users must be able to freely access the content and applications of their choice, without interference or manipulation from the ISP.

2) Open. The cost and process needed to acquire and Internet connection should be as low and and easy as possible for both individuals and organizations.

3) Prevalent. Internet access should be available to every citizen from multiple sources. This means that local monopolies should not exist. Multiple ISPs should provide access in the same locations, so consumers have true choice, forcing providers to actually innovate instead of simply raising their fees from year to year.

If legislation is necessary to maintain these ideals, so be it. If legislation is not necessary, then all the better. However, we must not stand by idle to watch our freedoms taken away by a handful of greedy corporations. To support Net Neutrality is to support open and fair access for everyone.