A Free and Open Internet?

This is the moment we have all been waiting for —well, those of us who like the internet the way it is— Congress is going to enact Net Neutrality regulations.

Wait, what is Net Neutrality again?

Net Neutrality has two main principles:

1)      Web information is distributed in an unbiased manner

2)      Accordingly, it is accessible to everyone (with a computer) in a designated area for the same cost

Sounds like a great American idea, right? The new regulations would not allow Internet Service Providers to block Websites that offer competing services to their own nor speed up or slow down certain types or sources of Internet traffic. That’s great, because I’m way behind on my Hulu queue and if Comcast started slowing down their traffic I would never get through it.

However, according to the New York Times, these rules are more lenient for wireless carriers. Even though they cannot block Websites, they can still block or limit access to applications or services that directly compete with their own. Wait, what? That isn’t really Net Neutrality…

“Maybe you like Google Maps. Well, tough,” said Senator Al Franken on Saturday “If the F.C.C. passes this weak rule, Verizon will be able to cut off access to the Google Maps app on your phone and force you to use their own mapping program, Verizon Navigator, even if it is not as good. And even if they charge money, when Google Maps is free. If corporations are allowed to prioritize content on the Internet, or they are allowed to block applications you access on your iPhone, there is nothing to prevent those same corporations from censoring political speech.”

This is a nightmarish scenario for those of you who have ever used and paid for VZ Navigator; you can imagine how (literally) lost this world could be without our free Google Maps. But most importantly, telecom companies don’t have the people’s interest at heart; it’s their wallets they are thinking about. I think Steve Wozniak said it best: “Every time and in every way that the telecommunications careers have had power or control, we the people wind up getting screwed.”

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