Net Neutrality or Good Bye Internet

The debate on Net Neutrality has been ongoing for way too long. It was supposed to be settled long ago. Last summer someone asked me if I would be writing something about this, I didn't have the time and thought I'd miss the deadline (September). Funny and sad at the same time is the fact that it appears far from settled.

Almost a year later and the U.S. is still debating this, like they did with Obamacare, by spreading lies, misinformation and other various idiotic propaganda. It's almost on both sides of the debate.

Of course Net Neutrality is important, it's so obvious that I can't even comprehend there being such a debate in the first place. What I do find interesting is that on the side of some proponents it feels like comprehension is eroding. Dragging this out eternally could be a good technique for the ISPs.

I've read a popular opinion saying something along the lines of "I'm pro Net Neutrality because I'm Pro Small Business". Seriously ? If that's what it comes to then I don't care if they ban the Internet. It's so North American to make everything about money making enterprises and job creating, to pit small businesses against big corporations. This isn't about businesses, it's about equality and free speech. It should also be about how adding artificial value to a service is backwards.

What is this Net Neutrality ?

ISPs want to be able to charge websites and/or users extra for faster data delivery, at their discretion. To do that, they need to be allowed to intentionally slow down certain data transfers, in other words, they need to artificially create hurdles so they can provide a "service" that removes them.

Imagine a highway where your speed is limited to 60% of the legal limit, even when traffic is low, however if you pay a little extra you can augment it. That's what Net Neutrality is supposed to address, the greed of the ISPs. Indeed, many ISPs are feeling left out, some feel it is unfair that Facebook and YouTube are making so much money while everyone depends on ISPs for the connection.

Another example, maybe clearer. Imagine UPS being bought by Amazon, now imagine Amazon-UPS creating artificial delays for deliveries originating from Amazon's competitors. This is what the ISPs want, especially those that are also content providers such as Comcast (NBC) and AOL (Time Warner).

If ISPs are granted permission to prioritise, to artificially delay, to manipulate, to block and to tamper with data transfers as they wish then so be it. (In some situations they already do it and there's very little noise about it).

ISPs could and would propose bundles according to their allegiances. Some could totally ban Netflix because they would have their own equivalent service. Others will slow down popular services to their users unless they pay a premium. Who knows, maybe Google as an ISP will ban Facebook in the hope of finally getting Google+ off the ground.

ISPs could decide what channels their users have access to, or degrade access to certain services. This also means that your website that criticises Comcast could be blocked to Comcast users, adding yet another layer of censorship, one that can't be legally fought.

The bottom line is that ISPs should be doing the work of ISPs, delivering data packets and nothing else. Allowing ISPs to do whatever they want implies the death of the Internet.

Further Reading

Here's an article on Net Neutrality that attempts to be neutral. There are a few interesting links at the bottom to other ressources with various views, for or against Net Neutrality.