Net Neutrality is again a topic of much discussion, debate, and diametric discord. There’s a piece of advice printed on the cover of the most fantastic fictional book yet to be scooped from the ethereal soup of unexplored imagination that is such a go-to for me it’s at risk of becoming my trope. Regardless this is another apt application so, before I go further I’ll say it again:
Much has been written since “network neutrality” concepts were bundled up nicely by the coining of that term in 2003, and later shortened to Net Neutrality (one would assume to save on characters in tweets). A lot. Like, a really big number. More than 100, which would be plenty. More than 1,000 times that, which is just painfully daunting at this point. Somewhere along the way it got a bit political, and the facts started getting a bit… well… alternative… (too soon?)
Net Neutrality is a concept. It is the idea that a network of networks, or THE network of all networks we call “the internet” might best serve its users if there is little or no discrimination of traffic. Again, Net Neutrality is a concept, not some already enacted legislation or bureaucratic rule set. If there is a takeaway of any value here, that is it. Action taken by the FCC in 2015 to reclassify internet servicing was not “Net Neutrality” but was an effort intended by those who supported it to better preserve and protect idea network neutrality. Action likely to be taken by the current FCC will not kill Net Neutrality, it will change the rules which will change the dynamic between service providers, service consumers, and regulators but may have anywhere from no to significant impact (in either direction) on quality or value of services.
Could it become harder for consumers to experience neutrality in the big network of networks? Possibly. Will such actions immediately equal the loss of indiscriminate network traffic flitting along our country’s embarrassingly substandard data infrastructure? No. I’m by no means an expert on the subject… those would mostly be lawyers anyway. Lawyers who used to be public sector technology administrators but then decided they might actually be better off doing things like reading case law for weeks on end, and helping to advance public policy on technology, and being able to afford yachts. But I do know that the statutes and the rules are not Net Neutrality, they are simply informed by the concepts that term represents.
Here is an agglomeration of resources, by no means exhaustive or authoritative, which may help to expand perspective or at least just help put you to sleep on a particularly rough night. Some were published before the FCC’s 2015 “Open Internet Order,” some just after, and some more recently since the FCC announced earlier this year that it intended to change the nature of internet services classification again. I can’t really say if what we have right now is good or bad, and neither can I predict whether any changes will be good or bad. Read some of these and any number of the thousands upon thousands of other resources covering the subject, then think about it for yourself.
- WIRED – What Everyone Gets Wrong in the Debate Over Net Neutrality
- ALA – Net Neutrality
- The Knife Media – Net neutrality: What is it and why do people care?
- The Washington Post – What FCC chair Ajit Pai gets wrong about net neutrality
- ThinkIT by SINGLEHOP – A Neutral Guide to Net Neutrality
- Tech Policy Corner – Net Neutrality v. Title II: Explained
- endgadget – What you need to know about net neutrality (before it gets taken away)
- The Brookings Institution – Regulating Internet Access as a Public Utility
- FCC – FCC Releases Open Internet Order
- FCC – Restoring Internet Freedom
Photo credit: Freepress https://www.savetheinternet.com/net-neutrality-what-you-need-know-now
Submitted by Joshua Klingbeil.