Net Neutrality is a modern phenomenon that has been under the public microscope since the term was first coined by Tim Wu, a law professor in Virginia, U.S.A, in 2003, more than a decade ago. He was aware of the growing conflict between the public and the Internet providers, each with their own motivations and intended uses for this growing technology. In a nutshell, Net Neutrality is letting the Internet remain as is—a free field of communication. However, I.S.P.s (Internet service providers) and broadband companies like Internet giants Verizon in the U.S. are trying to reduce this freedom. They want to create an uneven field in which certain, more popular websites and channels could be accessed more quickly than ones in less demand. This means that the broadband providers will fast track these routes whilst slowing down others. The users—the consumers—will have to pay for this quicker access. With this in mind, I.S.P.s could slow down or even block sites and channels according to their whims. Now (excluding money-hungry broadband providers) who on Earth wants that to happen?
So what is all the fuss concerning the Net? What is there to debate? It seems most people are somewhat unaware of the conflict. Yet. I think most people just want the Internet to simply remain as it is in its current form. Humans tend to hate stuff that disrupts our lives. If Net Neutrality hadn’t been present from the start, then perhaps we wouldn’t be having this debate at all; it is because of its potential introduction that we are worried. Imagine visiting your favorite park for ten years and then being told one day that you would either have to pay to enter or else you would have to use the back entrance a few miles away. You’d be certainly annoyed, wouldn’t you? But if you knew the situation from the start, it wouldn’t be so bothering, right?
Take another example. In Ireland this year, household water charges were introduced. This means that the Irish public will have to relinquish their right to free water use at home and will now have to pay an annual cost, depending on usage. Most countries have water charges already in place, but it is the introduction that has led the people of Ireland into protest and disgust at the government.
If alcohol was invented today, would it be legal and sold in stores worldwide? Cigarettes? Of course not, but because they have been around for so long, they are enjoyed legally by potential addicts and cancer patients the world over. It’s the unwanted, ‘unprecedentedness’ of Net Neutrality that would cause debate among nations, governments and mostly their publics. When we get used to having something so good on tap, we don’t want anything to change too greatly, be it water, beer or in this case, the Internet.
After more than ten years passed since the topic first arose, we have seen the availability and uses of the Irocket. ‘Convergence’ in technology is a key aspect. This has lead to the consumer being able to use Internet not just on a PC at home, but also on her phone, laptop, in the car, in the bathroom and even on a plane. The suits need to check their email constantly. Young adults are watching Netflix and addicted to Facebook. Teens are watching porn, playing games and following celebrities. We all need the Internet.
The whole debate on Net Neutrality brings the entire role of the Internet in our lives into question. Is the it just another product akin to TV and cable? Most households in the developed world are willing to add an extra fee to their monthly cable bill in order to watch more sports and movies. Premium football games and the latest movie releases. So why are YouTube, Facebook, Skype and other mega Internet pillars any different? These sites have cost millions of dollars to develop and a vast amount of ingenious brain power to engineer. Why should we be allowed to consume these things for free? Look at Skype and Facebook: They have connected us to our families and friends at next to no cost. Should we hate Internet providers for charging us a few dollars extra for such an incredible facility?
On the other hand, is the Internet more than just a service nowadays? Is it something we could choose to live without or has it become so integral, that to disrupt it in some way, would genuinely harm people’s daily welfare? The Internet itself is arguably humankind’s greatest invention.
Although I can understand business minds want more return on such a wonderful product, personally I think it should remain as it is. The Internet has changed the world immensely. Each website should be given a fair chance of being discovered and becoming the next sensation to captures the public’s eye (case in point: idigculture.com).
Hi everyone, my name is Peter. I’m from Ireland but I’m currently living in South Korea where i work as a teacher. I love to travel and meet new cultures. I’ve had a colorful past which included farming pigs, working in a power plant and running a reggae bar in Thailand. I want the world to get along more and learn from each other to erase our prejudices.
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