Sunday, November 18, 2007

Net Neutrality

The fundamental issue underlying the net neutrality debate is rights. Content providers are concerned with their traffic being treated equally and network owners debate the right to choose what traffic can travel over their network - should network owners be allowed to give preferential treatment to certain content providers over others? etc. Lastly, the rights of the user come into question. Privatization of the internet would create monopolies. The user would have little choice in certain decisions, as with small web sites, who would not be able to gain traction without the subsidization of their cause.
What net neutrality does is stops network carriers from choosing favorites, playing sides, etc. and deciding that the service quality a content provider gets depends on the business arrangement it makes with the ISP.
The ACLU and Google are in favor of net neutrality.
A result of a repeal against net neutrality would be fewer and fewer companies having more control over what consumers see and do on the internet. If the consumer does not like the services provided by their ISP, they have little choice but to take it or leave it. The ACLU believes that if ISP's are allowed to control the internet, everyones speech is at risk. That regardless of whether the ISP disagrees with the speech or finds that some speech is not as profitable as others, the end result is that free speech on the internet will be virtually nonexistent.
Google could potentially see loss of revenue because of the potential growth of corporate relaionships between network owners and content providers. For example, AT&T, a network owner, owns Yahoo!, a content provider. AT&T could make Yahoo!'s search engine respond much quicker than Google's, if net neutrality is repealed. Their concern is over the potential of concentration of power in the internet.
Libertarians are against net neutrality because it enforces government legislation. They see such as interference - unnecessary gov't intervention. Even though the internet has always been regulated by net neutrality and only just repealed this past year, the group consider the introduction of legislation to ensure net neutrality as infringement on their rights to freely choose in a competitive market. (Ass backwards.) is an organization that opposes net neutrality as well. One of their reasons is that this would tax the populace. Large companies would most likely not invest in creating new and better internet infrastructure if they did not see the profits of such in return, so in effect, it would be the consumers who would pay. However, this logic is the same that stymies the universal healthcare issue.
In my opinion, to date, the government regulation of the internet has not been overbearing, so I do not think it would become so, but do think that legislation is the right way to ensure net neutrality. Also, I believe that because of net neutrality, and the assurance of competition, that it is impossible to "stifle innovation" with the limitless options. Without real competition there would be no real incentive to innovate.