On balance, internet neutrality is desirable
The issue of net neutrality has been hotly debated in the past few years. What exactly is internet neutrality? One of the more easily understood definitions found online says:
“Net neutrality is the principle that every website (of the same class—more on “class” later) should be treated equally and not given any preferential treatment in respect to other websites. In other words, if you click on Google and on Yahoo, your internet service provider (ISP) will use the fastest possible routes to deliver each website to you. It doesn’t have special routes or other preferences for one site versus another. Net Neutrality doesn’t prevent variations in overall service—in other words, it may be that you pay twice as much as your neighbor in order to have more bandwidth which could lead to Yahoo loading up faster on your computer than it does on hers even if you both clicked on Yahoo at the same time. Service providers can and should provide various tiers of overall service depending on your needs, but once you subscribe to a given tier of service, there shouldn’t be additional fees levied on you or on the sites you access.”
On the one hand, it seems intuitive that consumers should have free access to all websites. While companies can dictate the amount people for Internet access, once consumers pay that amount, they should be able to browse what they want. However, larger companies who provide these services say otherwise, claiming that they should have the ability to have some control over the services they provide and the content that users can access.
You can also add to the debate by leaving a comment at the end of the page.
Without net neutrality, large companies will interfere with online communication between users.
If control of the Internet and its contents are given to large companies, they can easily interfere with communication between users that was previously taken for granted. Comcast limited user access to BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer exchange. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ordered Comcast to stop limiting user access to BitTorrent, but Comcast challenged the order and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit ruled the order invalid. [[http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21376597/]] Likewise, Verizon Wireless blocked some text messages from Naral Pro-Choice America because it deemed such messages “controversial," and could easily commit similar actions without the protection of net neutrality. [[http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/29/opinion/29sat3.html?_r=2&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1277920877-83sDIWN0j4fuUT4GUNrxqQ]]
Companies will not abuse their power if no net neutrality legislation is passed, because such practices would ultimately hurt companies themselves.
"Proponents of network neutrality imagine that if unrestrained, I.S.Ps(internet service providers) would block large portions of the Internet, and make other parts of the Internet accessible only behind a high-pay wall. While this is possible in theory, robust competition among service providers ensures companies will be punished for providing such egregious service… If any company adopted the measures network neutrality supporters envision, customers would jump ship to an I.S.P that gives better service.” [[http://www.freedomworks.org/publications/the-problem-with-network-neutrality]]
Net neutrality ensures innovation and contributions from a variety of smaller users.
Part of what makes the Internet so unique is that anybody can contribute content, creating a wealth of information. However, the loss of net neutrality would mean that Internet providers would be able to create exclusive deals with existing companies, effectively shutting out smaller companies. "We would lose the opportunity to vastly expand access and distribution of independent news and community information through broadband television. More than 60 percent of Web content is created by regular people, not corporations. How will this innovation and production thrive if creators must seek permission from a cartel of network owners?" [[http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/07/AR2006060702108.html]]
Net neutrality promotes innovation by testing ideas on a large number of consumers. Also the per user cost of internet provision is reduced greatly because of economies of scale. Currently millions of companies profit from the internet. ISPs are just being greedy.
Net neutrality actually interferes with innovation because it prevents companies from charging its users more to access more content, giving companies less profit and interfering with their ability to innovate.
“Anti-tiering regulations may indirectly prevent the expansion and improvement of Internet access for their customers, who have used an increasing amount of bandwidth. The telecommunications corporations also claim that a lack of differentiated funding sources has slowed their own corporations' implementations of new technologies and also resulted in elevated prices for many of their customers.” [[http://www.imprintmagazine.org/life_and_style/digital_divide_issue_net_neutrality?page=0,2]]
“Companies that own high-speed lines have a right to recover the costs that other parties impose when they wish to use those lines to transmit high-bandwidth, revenue-rich services of their own. If network neutrality is enacted, ISPs will have no incentive to build new pipes. Consumers will therefore get less choice. Network neutrality also is bad for competition. Differential pricing of content allows competition among ISPs. If a company wants to adopt a policy of network neutrality, it is free to do so and win market share from consumers who find this attractive.” [[http://www.freedomworks.org/publications/the-problem-with-network-neutrality]]
Lack of net neutrality causes exclusive deals and gives large companies the power to discriminate and unfairly control information.
Without net neutrality, companies can buy exclusive deals with certain companies as they please without any sort of regulation, leading to the exclusion of other companies and ultimately discrimination on a previously free Internet.
"They can create 'fast lanes' and 'slow lanes' and decide who gets to be in each. There is nothing to stop AT&T from pushing content providers into exclusive deals denied to Comcast or Time Warner subscribers. There is nothing to stop Verizon from slowing down Web sites they dislike and speeding up others with impunity. There is no reason why BellSouth couldn’t make a deal with Amazon to make it the only online book retailer on its network. There is nothing to stop discrimination for social, economic or political reasons." [[http://www.freepress.net/files/nn_fact_v_fiction_final.pdf]]
If companies were to start discriminating against certain websites and making some information harder to access, consumers would simply turn away and use another internet service provider. At least 98% of of American zip codes have at least 3 ISPs to choose from, meaning that if one ISP abuses its privileges, Americans can simply turn to another ISP, which means there is no incentive for businesses to create harmful exclusive deals. [[http://www.lvrj.com/opinion/net-neutrality-88354672.html]]
Also, if consumers are made to choose what kind of content they do not want to pay for. They would be happy to turn to an I.S.P that blocks it for them. We all have our pet websites; religious people do not want porn or evidence of our contemporary debauchery on their home or family radar..
Selective viewership like choosing the T.V channels you want your cable company to air in your home; will give a better indicator of what users really want.Therefore improve the quality of internet content.
Without net neutrality, prices will become higher and a few companies will have a free rein on controlling prices.
Net neutrality ensures that once a user gets access to the Internet, they can visit any website that they want to. However, without net neutrality, companies gain the power to charge more based on specific content; in other words, they can charge you more if you want to access a specific website. Companies then gain the power to increase prices on popular websites, ultimately hurting consumers.
"In fee-based net prejudice schemes, your service provider could not only charge the websites you visit but also charge you as well. Internet users such as yourself could suffer extortion-type demands from internet providers practicing fee-based net prejudice. Suppose your internet service provider notices you (and a lot of other people) use the site YouTube a lot. They can not only charge YouTube for what they claim is better service, but they can also charge you an extra fee for every YouTube packet delivered." [[http://www.scribd.com/doc/938752/Against-FeeBased-and-other-Pernicious-Net-Prejudice-An-Explanation-and-Examination-of-the-Net-Neutrality-Debate]]
The idea presented above is not this price increase will be random but deliberate. For example companies give a free trial and once they feel you are a fan of the product they deliberately ask for money. Face-book is already known for the commercial aspects in it's many features. Games and services that were free now ask for money if you want to get ahead in them quickly. Advertising on F.B costs money. It is a business primarily because of all its users.
Everything comes at a cost.
There is no reason that companies will start arbitrarily raising prices. In fact, this would actually be against their interests - raising prices will simply make a company fall behind in terms of competition, and they will ultimately lose out on customers. Saying that companies will immediately start raising prices is unrealistic and is simply a picture of the worst-case-scenario and not of what would actually happen.
The best things in life are free. And Facebook's making billions anyway; a price increase will only chase the bulk of its users off thus reduce profit.
Net neutrality preserves choice on the Internet and the idea that a website's success is determined by its quality.
The Internet is special in that anybody can contribute content, and the actual success of websites is determined by the users themselves. If a website is unpopular, it will ultimately fail because not enough people are visiting that website and using it. Net neutrality ensures that this system stays in place because any user will be able to access any website. However, without net neutrality, the idea that the best and most popular websites will succeed is no longer true, as competition will be distorted by larger companies making deals and preventing access to certain websites.
Selective viewership is all about choice.
Yes that are infinitely many choices to view on the internet but how many of these choices to we avail?
Who actually checks the one-millionth Google result for a search entry.
Reducing options to a manageable amount provides a more efficient means of making choices.
Ensuring net neutrality represents excessive government regulation and control over business.
Businesses should be allowed to control their products as they please, since they created and invested in them. Instead of creating more problems for the economy and businesses by regulating it, the government should give these companies freedom and allow them to make their own decisions.
“Telecommunications companies, having invested billions of dollars from consumers and government subsidies in new network infrastructure, claim the right under U.S. law to operate the network with minimal government interference.” [[http://www.imprintmagazine.org/life_and_style/digital_divide_issue_net_neutrality?page=0,1]]
1) The government is allowed to regulate certain products, even if a company creates them. Government regulation of business is a way to ensure that consumers are protected, and companies should not be given complete free rein over their products - there are always rules and regulations.
2) Internet providers created the ability to access the Internet, but not the content on the Internet itself. There is no reason that these large companies should be given the power to dictate who can access what content.
A government that ensures net neutrality is one that violates principles of freedom.
The Internet is founded upon principles of the free market - people are allowed to publish content and the content's success is based upon whether or not people like it. Instead of interfering with the free market, the government should allow businesses to direct themselves. Otherwise, the system veers dangerously towards socialism. [[http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/OpEd-Contributor/_Net-Neutrality_-Is-Socialism_-Not-Freedom-8410175.html]]
So what is the alternative? A free market approach where if Yahoo pays the ISP to allow its page to be loaded up faster than its rivals? That would simply hand the internet over to companies that can afford to make their websites fastest most so blocking off a lot of the innovation on the internet. Why go to a new search engine as it will take forever to load because it has not paid the isp while google and yahoo have? This leaves government or some independent authority ensuring net nutrality as the only viable choice if the internet is to stay as creative as it is.
What do you think?