The End of Net Neutrality?
Recently, I read this article by Marvin Ammori.
In it, he outlines how internet service provider/telecommunication companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon are attempting to make court injunctions in the USA to allow them to make discriminatory choices in who they provide service to, and how good that service is. In short, it means that they can boost or degrade the level of service, the connection speed and IT support, for, say, a website like Wired or Yahoo on their own terms, be that for a higher price or for personal reasons like a difference in ideology or opinion.
Currently, there is a nondiscrimination rule to prevent an exploitation and selective distribution of telecom resources. To me, this is another case of a capitalist, industrial mindset, trying to ill exploit a resource for humankind, as referenced in Ken Robinson’s article on climate crisis and it’s relation to education and information.
To us westerners living in the first world, we are (or should be) in the full swing of the Information Age. With ever-advancing technology, we can very easily provide a flat, fair tool for education and information exchange via the internet and related new media. The internet set the ground for altruistic sharing of information, and art/media, yet time and time again, laws are passed or proposed that will ultimately lead to a prohibition on information, backed by people with overly money-hungry ideals. This has ranged from SOPA and ACTA, and private deals with ISPs and large websites like Youtube to give companies immediate and hair-triggered tools to claim copyright breach at the drop of a hat.
But laws and acts like this one will hamper the foundations of the internet; the very speed and accessibility of websites. In the future as software continues to develop and become more resource intensive, something like this will cripple large portions of the internet, making the sites that can afford to make deals with their ISPs look like BluRay, next to sites that can’t, look like Betamax. It will create a resource disparity for the information age, the same way industrial exploitation has created First and Third world countries as we understand them today.
Paying attention to how our physical, old school societies and legal systems react to this shows that this stems from a problem in our fundamental understanding of “fairness”. To many people, it seems perfectly fair to do something like act exclusive with a service you can provide equally, at little fluxuating cost, choosing the most profitable option instead for your own sake. To these people, the concept of “with great power comes great responsibility” is only a piffy line you could only hear in a comic book and not something to take seriously.
For the longest time, these companies have continued to make a profit, hence why they’re still here, yet it is not enough for them. And they can use our own legal systems, systems that never foresaw the conditions we live in now, to hamper advancement and the progression of global society into something truly fair when it comes to the sharing of information.
I feel like we should all enjoy our shrinking island called the internet before it sinks back into the polluted ocean that continually tries to drag it under it’s sludge. Either that or pray that there’s a miraculous shift in consciousness before it makes a mess of the digital landscape too.