Thursday, July 1, 2010

What's in a Name - Net Neutrality Ain't About Neutrality

The FCC has proposed expanding its power to regulate to include the Internet. The Internet was originally designed as a difficult to damage, decentralized communications network which could survive and remain effective as a communication method were America to come under attack. It has since spread worldwide and introduced the principle of free speech in parts of the world where free speech had heretofore been virtually unknown.

Via the Internet, I can talk with folks the world over. The only limitation to my use of the net is where restrictive governments have added to the basic design to place "kill switches" and blocks between their people and the net.  I believe the FCC chairman is attempting to start a similar process in the United States by taking over "regulation" of the Internet.

While it is true that Internet Service Providers can regulate how traffic passes through their hubs, it is also true that market forces prevent them from doing so in a way harmful to their customers.  The reason is that each provider only has power over their own piece of the net.  Anyone can join the net as provider or information bank, simply by hooking up and can offer an alternative route to the net for the customers of a repressive ISP.  The current system uses the power of free market capitalism to allow the Internet to regulate itself. The Internet is now a global entity and those who work and play on the Internet are connected far beyond our borders.  I believe it morally wrong for our country to appoint itself a regulator of what is the greatest monument to free speech ever created.

The power of the Net is its built-in self-regulation.  Users simply avoid places where service is not fair and free.  They don't make enough money to survive and then close their doors and shut off their servers.  If we give a government agency control over the Net we introduce a whole new route to corruption and influence buying for those who do not wish for an open Internet. For now, a company or individual wishing to control information or eliminate competition has no one to go to (except maybe in China).  Give the FCC power to regulate who does business on the Net and how they do it and you have created an entity that can be bribed, intimidated or influenced to "regulate" in a biased fashion by terrorists, powerful corporations and political forces. In other words, "If it ain't broke, don't even try fixing it!"

Please oppose the FCC Chairman's efforts to regulate the Internet or (worse) turn it into a public utility. Please ask your congressman or senator to vote for H.R. 3924 and S. 1836, which would prohibit the FCC from regulating the Internet.

If we don't do this, we give to the executive branch of our government, a "kill switch" that can be used to shut off free speech and punish those it opposes.  Legislation like The Net Neutrality Act and the Fairness Doctrine, while they sound lovely and Democratic, only serve to create the very tools by which free speech may be stifled.

We have the right to say what we want, but there is another right we also have which isn't much talked about by supporters of Net Neutrality and the Fairness Doctrine.  That is, the right not to listen! Anyone has a right to stand up on their soapbox and speak their mind, but it's up to them to hold their audience's attention.

We have freedom on the Internet now. I've never known a time when freedom was improved by giving the government more power to regulate it.

Tom King - Tyler, TX

No comments: