Net neutrality is currently a hot button issue. With everyone from individual citizens to the President of the United States voicing their opinions regarding the issue, everyone is taking sides. And, when Internet freedom seems to hang in the balance, it is easy to see why.
What is Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality is a movement to ensure that no provider of Internet service in the United States can limit what their clients can access. For example, if your Internet provider has a special deal with an unpopular search engine, they can make it take a really long time for you to use any search engine that is not the one they want you to use.
Net Neutrality is such a big issue because it is seen as private companies imposing on the rights of individuals. The rights being imposed on are seen as universally guaranteed and include the right to free speech. In addition, by going against net neutrality, businesses are seen to benefit directly from Americans losing their freedom. Because of the complexity of this issue, there are a number of reasons both pro and con regarding Net Neutrality. Lets take a look.
The Pros of Net Neutrality
Those individuals who are for Net Neutrality include the President, politicians, non-profit groups, Internet groups, and individuals. The general consensus is that if there is no Net Neutrality then Americans will lose a coveted freedom of expression and exploration, which the Internet currently provides. Lets investigate the pro side a little more fully.
1. A Basic Freedom
The Internet has made the sharing of ideas possible in way that is revolutionary. If you have a website regarding something that I find interesting, it is very easy for me to access your website and read all about it. This freedom to search is what many people fear will be removed if Net Neutrality is not enacted. If there is no Net Neutrality, then your Internet provider can slow down or block access to a website you want to visit due to a pre-existing deal between that website and another provider. A similar example is television. You can only access certain channels if you pay for a larger more expensive package. In addition, not all channels are offered by certain providers. If Net Neutrality fails, many believe this will happen to the Internet as well.
2. A Blow to Creativity and Innovation
Limiting information and charging for it is a fantastic way to make money. The reverse to this however is that the more control over information there is, the less innovation occurs. As the Internet is now, it is possible for people to freely explore. This exploration allows them to learn what they want to learn and even help make things better. By limiting what people can access by casting aside Net Neutrality, this innovation, which has led to many services we currently take for granted, could be gone for good.
The Cons of Net Neutrality
Net Neutrality has a number of individuals who are concerned with its implementation, including politicians, lobbyists, and businessmen. What they see is an unfair loss of profits associated with the services they provide their customers.
1. Unfair Usage
An Internet provider supplies individuals with access to the Internet based on the amount of bandwidth they want. There are some websites that require significantly more bandwidth then other websites. Some companies do not want Net Neutrality to pass because they are being taxed unfairly by dense, high content information (often media) that is taxing their systems. Internet providers want to be compensated accordingly to make up for how frequently they are used.
2. Special Interests
When it comes to those who opposed Net Neutrality, there are a number of special interests. Driven by the idea of potential profits, these special interests work to strike down Net Neutrality in any form. If Net Neutrality does not pass, then a number of people will make a great deal of money. Internet providers will begin to get paid by websites if they want their content to have special preference. Given how few Internet providers there are in the United States, monopolies can easily form shutting out competitors and keeping prices high.
3. Legislative Repercussions
Given that the Internet is still seen as being in its infancy, no one know exactly what will happen with it in the future. Net Neutrality legislation may be the worst possible thing for the health of the Internet. Because of this insecurity regarding the future state of the Internet, some legislators are not willing to pass any broad reaching legislation until more is known regarding the matter.
As seen in the above pro con list, Net Neutrality is often thrown into simplistic terms of being those supporting free speech verses those supporting company profits. While this does not fully encompass what the debate is about, it is a good starting ground for your future research regarding this exciting debate.
Crystal Lombardo is a contributing editor for Vision Launch. Crystal is a seasoned writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience. She has been an editor of three popular blogs that each have had over 500,000 monthly readers.