Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Battle of Freedom on the Internet

We are in a war against piracy as the Internet makes it possible to have efficient spread of content (Lessig 17).

When I was in grade seven, the only computer I knew was my aunt’s tiny black laptop with Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and no Internet. I had done perfectly fine in school because when I needed to use the Internet I would go to the library and the computer was not a distraction. Then my dad bought a computer so we could have Internet at home and that’s when E-mail, instant messaging, and the Internet came into play. Besides being a homework tool, the computer was our new toy. Now, going on the Internet is a necessity rather than a privilege. Today, we are known as the narcissistic generation because we do things for our own benefit and we take things for granted everyday. We assume that we will always be able to access whichever sites we want, whenever we want, whichever service we want and at the fastest speed possible. Network Neutrality makes all these assumptions possible (“What is Net Neutrality?”).

Network Neutrality, or Net Neutrality for short, is what preserves the free and open Internet which assures no discrimination, prevents Internet providers from blocking, speeding up, or slowing down web content, ownership, and destination. It also protects consumer’s right to use equipment, content, application, or service on a non-discriminatory basis without interference from the network provider. The network’s only job is to move data not to choose which data to privilege with higher quality service (“What is Net Neutrality?”).

The world’s largest telephone and cable companies—AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and Time Warner—want to be Internet gatekeepers who decide which websites load fast, slow, or don’t load at all in order to discriminate in favor of their own searches, Internet phone services, and streaming video while slowing down or blocking their competitors (“What is Net Neutrality?”).
Unfortunately, Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, always intended the Internet to be a neutral network and as a result Net Neutrality has governed communication networks since the 1930s (“What is Net Neutrality?”). Since our generation is narcissistic and materialistic, the telephone and cable companies who want to discriminate do not care that the Internet should be a place where anyone can express themselves through personal websites, blogs, and articles along with more credible websites from organizations and schools. Perhaps they think that if people are really that dependent on the Internet, they will continue to use the faster websites even though taxes will be put on content providers (“What is Net Neutrality?”). Even broadband prices could rise up to one third if regulators insist on strict net neutrality which will involve rules that block carriers from charging content providers premium price to prioritize certain web traffic (Tait).

What ever happened to our free culture? To a freedom to express oneself in any way shape or form? Multinational corporations have taken us all on a ride they want us to depend on the Internet to a point where when we use it we have to pay for it. This suggests that information cannot be free and that people who cannot afford information are not entitled to know about it. This is wrong. I leave you with this quote, “Creative work has value; whenever I use, or take, or build upon the creative work of others, I am taking from them something of value” (Lessig 18).

Lessig, Lawrence. Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity . USA: Penguin Books, 

Nikki, Tait. "‘Net neutrality’ could raise broadband prices." Financial Times. 21 Oct 2008. 25 
Oct 2008 .

"What's Net Neutrality?." Save the Internet. 25 Oct 2008 .

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