Saturday, April 19, 2008

Personal rant about Net Neutrality.

Thoughts on Net Neutrality.
by Doyle Watson, a contributor to this blog.

I just read an article concerning net neutrality which is in the news again, this issue has ramifications which will have serious consequences for freedom in today’s world if something isn’t done to ensure corporations and governments cannot impose restrictions to it.  Since regular news outlets do not report the news honestly many out there would not have the means to discern the difference and be allowed to research any particular subject if it wasn’t for the internet and the freedom to present all sides to any situation or activity.  There are many countries out there who control the media to the point that there is no way the information provided resembles honest reporting, then there are those countries which the news media supports the government and wouldn’t do anything which would place that government in a “bad light”.  No matter the reasoning, there are many, the final outcome is the government stifles the free flow of information to the point that many are unable to make informed decisions, thus the internet allows those of us who care enough to do the research for those informed decisions be allowed to do so without restrictions.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =  <  B e l o w  T h e  F o l d  >  = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = 

The issue which has brought net neutrality back into the light is concerning Comcast’s restriction of people’s ability to upload information in the form of “torrents,” which many do not have a clue as to what a “torrent” is, the reality is that Comcast is not restricting “torrents.”  In simplified terms a torrent is only information which allows a particular file or media to be downloaded over multiple computers, and since Comcast and many other organizations control the backbones, and they wish to maximize their profits, they do not support any measure which allows consumers to move information more efficiently, with the advent of “peer-2-peer” networking.

Many have found the means to share files of many types to everyone in a more efficient manner, and since Comcast is finding such a thought difficult to profit from, they have begun to throttle back, and some cases block the ability to upload information to the internet, using the excuse that there are those of you out there who have their speeds slowed down because of these uploads.  The problem to such a statement is when utilizing cable as the means to access the internet, the more people accessing within a particular area, rather it is uploading or downloading, will slow down the connection speed.  It really doesn’t matter what the actual access is, the more people on cable at a given time the slower the connection.

So why the reasoning for throttling back and blocking some uploads?  Some say to curb rampant “piracy” of software or media, though there are many “legal” reasons for “P2P” networks, the actual reason is that Comcast does not want to improve their networks, nor increase the ‘bandwidth” to allow for truly unlimited access to the internet, as this would increase their costs and cut deeply in to their profits.  But this is an area many could side with Comcast on as everyone is out to earn a profit.  But the more far reaching ramifications is that with the throttling back and blocking of this particular type of traffic, what is going to stop them from restricting other transfers of information which they find objectionable in the future?

Internet access should be regulated as any other form of communications should be, since such communications is controlled by so few corporations due to the costs involved with setting up such networks.  Competition is all but non-existent so those corporations have the means to restrict and otherwise funnel the flow of information as they see fit, preventing certain forms from being transmitted.  Which in some cases is at the expense of consumer privacy, and others restricted at the behest of the highest bidder, which could be the Government, which doesn’t take to kindly to criticism in any country.

Though I am not a big supporter of the government regulating anything, when it comes to corporations there needs to be some regulation to protect the consumers from harmful measures taken in the name of profits, and the restriction of information can be harmful for the citizens, and the country as a whole if it isn’t presented honestly, timely and forthright.  For many this is a right which should never be curtailed.  If there is any question as to how harmful the restriction of information can be, just open your eyes and see that the current war with Iraq was the result of false and misleading “Intelligence” information provided in such a way as to steer us towards such a conflict.  Though there were a few persons out there that voiced their objections, many supported the invasion of a country based on false “Intelligence” information, and now many of our fine and brave soldiers are paying the price, as are the citizens of the sovereign nation of Iraq.

If it wasn’t for the internet a lot of what we know today wouldn’t have seen the light of day.  If it wasn’t for those few voices who started posting on blogs, and other locations which allows for the free flow of information.  Do not get me wrong this does not mean that everything posted on the internet is the truth, but there is many different sides presented which allows everyone, who is so inclined, to research and discover the truth on their own.

Do not mistaken the voiced concerns of a particular corporation when they make statements to the effect that they have the consumers position and well being foremost in their thoughts and actions, which could not be further from the truth if it interferes with their profits, alienating a smaller group allows them to gauge the perimeters of just how far they can go and get away with the restriction of information for everyone...  And once they restrict and block the first smaller group they will begin to disassemble the rest of the information superhighway.  Net Neutrality is a very important and vital part for the free flow of information in today’s world which needs to be protected.


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