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meyler.mass.media

Regulate Everything!

I’ve come to the conclusion that everything in this world should be regulated. It would make things run a lot smoother. Control the way that people dress. Control the way that people pray. Control what people say. Control how people think. Do this and you won’t have any of those nasty radicals doing what they please all the time. It sure would make it easier to earn money. Because of course, this is of the highest importance.

At least it certainly seems like it is. It seems like the right to free speech is losing the battle against corporate principles. Especially in the case of network neutrality.

The problem comes from the large cable companies that supply cable for the Internet looking to gain a level of control over the Internet. Their argument stands that since they provide the service, they should have the right to some jurisdiction of that service. Companies like Rogers, AT&T, Tellus and Bell are lobbying the government to remove the state of net neutrality on the Internet. This would leave them free to be gatekeepers, “deciding which websites load fast or slow, and which won’t load at all. They have expressed interest in charging content providers to guarantee speedy delivery of their data. They also have the ability to discriminate in favour of their own search engines … while slowing down or blocking their competitors” (“F.A.Q”).

If this were to happen, it would completely change the Internet as a medium. It would change it from being one of the few media that is self-regulating that can act as a free space for ideas and information, to being just another instrument controlled by the interests of a company.

The elimination of net neutrality means that the public isn’t able to make their own decisions about their Internet.

Fighting to keep the Internet neutral in Canada are initiatives like saveournet.ca and neutrality.ca. They spread the word about the problem through petitions and letters to the CRTC, which is the commission responsible for telecommunications in the country. In one news release on saveournet.ca, it speaks about how the CRTC is reviewing a case against Bell who has been requested to cease and desist throttling Internet traffic. The site also mentions how the NDP and the Green party have worked the issue of net neutrality into their platforms.

I’m not ok with AT&T, Bell or any other ISP deciding which websites I can or cannot visit. They have no right to that kind of control over something that isn’t their property in the first place. The Internet is no one’s sole possession. As Sir Tim Berners-Lee said while discussing the problem of net neutrality, “When I invented the Web, I didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission.”

Decisions about safeguarding the neutrality of the Internet should be a concern for every person who uses the Internet. If corporations begin to have authority over the medium, it would mean a loss of a true open marketplace of ideas, it would be stifling to human progress, and it would bring us one step closer to a culture where everything is regulated.

Sources:
“F.A.Q.” saveournet.ca. 20 Nov. 2008. <http://saveournet.ca/content/faq&gt;.
Stokes, Jon. “Tim Berners-Lee on Net Neutrality: ‘This is Serious.’” 23 June 2006. Ars Technica. 23 Nov. 2008. < http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060623-7127.html&gt;.

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