The internet has completely transformed the way that information is accessed. Now it is possible to access content instantaneously. Even though the internet allows you to access all types of content, there are certain regulations. However, the concept of net neutrality involves getting rid of any type of discrimination in the transmission and access of content online. This principle is based around the belief that those distributing and accessing the content on the internet are equal. Taking a closer look at what net neutrally is and how it came about allows you to have a deeper understanding of this issue.
How Did the Phrase Arise?
The Phrase “net neutrality” was surprisingly created by Tim Wu in 2003. He was a professor at Columbia Law School at the time and coined the term in a scholarly paper that he wrote on the topic of broadband distribution. Tim Wu and other supporters of net neutrality are of the opinion that the internet should remain an open marketplace. This belief furthers the viewpoint that all providers of internet services should always stay neutral on the topic of content.
Deeper Understanding of Net Neutrality
Equal access to the internet is the primary concept behind this viewpoint. However, this belief of viewpoint is simply a type of professional ethic and is not stipulated by actual legislation. This means that honoring net neutrality is not enforced by law or overseen through implementation of a code of ethics. Many people don’t completely understand why legislation for net neutrality needs to be in place, but this lack of understanding could quickly change if broadband providers decided to change the way you access the internet tomorrow. If at some point in the future broadband providers have the ability to restrict or choose the content that you can access online, would that be a problem? The basis of net neutrality is to put some type of legislation or ethical code in place to keep this from happening in the future.
Net neutrality raises the issue of what happens when broadband providers want to charge more for accessing certain websites or unfairly monitoring the content that you access. These are real issues that need to be addressed and net neutrality attempts to put legislation in your place that will be able to keep these things from happening. Net neutrality legislation is what would come to your rescue when broadband supporters try to get the upper hand on the content accessible through the internet.
What is the Debate?
It seems like everyone can agree that the restriction of internet content in any way is not appealing. However, not all sides are sold on the idea that net neutrality legislation needs to be put in place to protect online content. Those in agreement with the need for net neutrality legislation want to ensure that internet providers do not gain an enormous amount of control that allows them to drive traffic to certain sites or profit on eth popularity of certain online content. However, those opposed to net neutrality legislation feel that these type of laws would bring about their own problems. In some cases, legislation does not always work in the way it is supposed to and many of those people opposed to net neutrality regulation believe this is one of those instances.
Here is a closer look at the pros and cons surrounding the topic of net neutrality:
Pros of Net Neutrality:
1. Competitive Market
If users have the ability to access any online information that they choose, this results in a competitive market. This ensures that the quality of content accessible online remains at a high level. Having more than one option to choose from is what causes such a competitive market. Having the ability to choose between competing broad band services also directly benefits the users and effects the quality of service that is received. Many of those that support net neutrality legislation believe that it would only further the competiveness of the market and inhibit an internet monopoly from forming. Keeping large websites from fully dominating the market is what supports of net neutrality regulation feel is possible.
2. No Future Restrictions
This advantage of net neutrality legislation is not quite relevant yet, but it could be one day in the future. Right now all online users have the ability to search online freely without any restrictions or government interference. It is possible to access content, videos, blog and surf the web freely. However, without proper legislation in place this freedom or right is not guaranteed or protected. This means that it is possible for at some point for the content that you can access online to be limited. Creating concrete net neutrality laws would eliminate all confusion and ensure that your right to access all content is fully protected.
3. No Exploitation by Service Providers
Making sure that certain internet service providers are prohibited from striking deals with big websites or blocking websites, apps or services is essential. This type of legislation is the only way to make sure that content providers are not taxed in the future and that innovation is awarded online. Keeping the big players from gaining all the control is what net neutrality legislation would accomplish. Making sure that exploitation does not change the type of content that can be found online is a huge benefit.
Cons of Net Neutrality:
1. Not Necessary
Many that are opposed to net neutrality legislation argue that it is not needed. They claim that it is a futile exercise due to the fact that no internet providers are looking to gain control or block online content. They feel like claiming that internet providers would sabotage other networks is an extreme way of thinking and not based on logic. Those opposed to net neutrality legislation show that this type of law is unnecessary by pointing to current networks and their overall function with relatively no content abuse issues.
2. Justification for Additional Charges
Internet providers are also opposed to this type of legislation because they feel that additional charges based on internet usage is necessary. The norm of charging internet usage is claimed to allow for a higher level of service offered by broadband providers. Many internet providers also argue that high fees are only charged to large companies, which have the necessary funds to afford these high fees. Having legislation in place that limits the types of fees internet providers can assess is argued to negatively impact the quality of service provided.
3. Confusion in Legislation
Another aspect of net neutrality legislation is the amount of confusion that it would cause. All legislation would have to be clearly defined and understood, which is not likely to be agreed upon. Many people with their own interests would benefit from certain laws and this would lead to chaos. Many feel that net neutrality in the wrong hands can actually lead to unwanted censorship.
The concept of net neutrality has led to discussion and controversy for a number of years. It seems as though the topic of online censorship will always foster some type of debate. Before you come to a conclusion on where you stand involving the issue of net neutrality, you should take a closer look at the pros and cons.