Ever heard of net neutrality? Well, it is sort of the founding principle of the web – that every internet user from the most occasional blogger to the largest multinational should have equal access to the internet. It ‘protects the consumer’s right to use any equipment, content, application or service without interference from the network provider. With Net Neutrality, the network’s only job is to move data — not to choose which data to privilege with higher quality service.’
But telecoms providers who carry that information along their cables and through their wireless networks, would like to be able to control that traffic, which would allow them to charge more for speedier access – or any kind of access thus squeezing out the small user and, indeed, their competitors’ users.
And now Google, whose founding motto was ‘Don’t be Evil’ and who have been de facto champions of net neutrality since its inception, are proposing to do a deal with one of the US’s largest telecoms operators. To quote the Save the Internet Campaign:
‘The CEOs of all the largest telecom companies have been clear about their plans to build a tiered Internet with faster service for the select few companies willing or able to pay exorbitant tolls. Net Neutrality advocates are not imagining a doomsday scenario. We are taking the telecom execs at their word.’
So what if we lose net neutrality? Well, most of us can imagine but, to quote the Save the Internet Campaign again:
‘The consequences of a world without Net Neutrality would be devastating. Innovation would be stifled, competition limited, and access to information restricted. Consumer choice and the free market would be sacrificed to the interests of a few corporations.
On the Internet, consumers are in ultimate control – deciding between content, applications and services available anywhere, no matter who owns the network. There’s no middleman. But without Net Neutrality, the Internet will look more like cable TV. Network owners will decide which channels, content and applications are available; consumers will have to choose from their menu.
The free and open Internet brings with it the revolutionary possibility that any Internet site could have the reach of a TV or radio station. The loss of Net Neutrality would end this unparalleled opportunity for freedom of expression.
The Internet has always been driven by innovation. Web sites and services succeed or fail on their own merits. Without Net Neutrality, decisions now made collectively by millions of users will be made in corporate boardrooms. The choice we face now is whether we can choose the content and services we want, or whether the broadband barons will choose for us.’
If this seems like a scary scenario to you, add your voice to the objectors now.