Being libertarian, and also a staunch supporter of private property rights, I’m totally against the whole Net Neutrality movement. Unfortunately i’ll have to revert to some simple analogies to make my points relatable to people that believe they have a right to others property (and vicariously their prosperity).
“The Government Invented the Internet, therefore, access needs to remain neutral”, is one frequent argument. NASA engineers invented the microwave oven, does that mean the public should be able to dictate how Amana or GE manufacture microwave ovens, and what is approved for cooking in those ovens? Of course not. Comparing the early “internet” used by the state to today’s internet is like comparing a tricycle to a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Yes they both have wheels, but, well, you get the idea.
“Those big, evil corporations will control, restrict, charge for, and otherwise dictate what and how content is streamed to you.” Yes, they built the pipes, manage the pipes, and provide those pipes all the way to your router. Dictating that they must grant blanket access to those pipes to all content providers is nothing less than taking their property. Stealing. Socialism.
“But what if they somehow compromise my access to my preferred content (Netflix, Pandora, LastFM, WordPress, etc.)?” Of course content providers want to have a free ride on highways someone else built. They can optimize their revenue stream and shareholder value and push the cost of doing business to someone else. How can that be a bad thing as long as you (the consumer) get your episode of Real Housewives at no extra charge?
And that my friends is the bottom line. It’s not really about restricted access, it’s about free riders. The content providers and the consumers don’t want to have to pay to play. All the “what if” scenarios fall by the roadside, because they are just fear-mongering used by master manipulators to push an agenda. You don’t like how Comcast is treating you and your preferred content? Then move to AT&T. And that’s the solution the the problem.
An internet that is responsive to the will of the consumer is one where the free market is allowed to operate, and competition between content providers, internet providers, and those in dual roles (like Google) are vying for advertisers and consumers. It will ultimately drive down costs, up quality, and increase access. To get there will require government to quit interfering, and people to stop using the power of the state to impose their will on others. Just because it’s popular (democracy) does not mean it’s right.
“Net Neutrality” is the simple but powerful principle that cable and broadband providers must treat all internet traffic equally. Whether you’re loading a blog post on WordPress.com, streaming House of Cards on Netflix, or browsing handcrafted tea cozies on Etsy, your internet provider can’t degrade your connection speed, block sites, or charge a toll based on the content that you’re viewing.
Net neutrality has defined the internet since its inception, and it’s hard to argue with the results: the internet is the most powerful engine of economic growth and free expression in history. Most importantly, the open internet is characterized by companies, products, and ideas that survive or fail depending on their own merit — not on whether they have preferred deals in place with a broadband service provider. Unfortunately, the principle of net neutrality, and the open internet that we know and love, is under attack.
Net Neutrality under…
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