Arguments for Net Neutrality

Apr 22nd, 2014

As we’ve discussed previously, net neutrality is the concept of an open Internet in which all individual users have the same access to online content and are not charged fees for viewing certain types of data. There are many different arguments for net neutrality including the control of data, rights and freedoms to digital content, the need for fair competition, and the need for the same speed applied to all websites across the online board.

The first argument for net neutrality goes back to the cable companies. Proponents of net neutrality claim that these cable companies want to be able to discriminate against certain websites, while allowing others to run at faster speeds and download/upload faster than others. By doing so, cable companies would then be able to charge the companies that own these websites in order to ensure fast speeds, or the ability for their websites to load at all. Vinton Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol and vice-president of Google argues that allowing cable companies to have this kind of control would “undermine the principles that have made the Internet such a success.” This control of data, and disabling the cable companies that kind of control, is one of the biggest arguments for net neutrality – and a very good one at that!

Another very logical argument for net neutrality is that users are entitled to certain digital rights and freedoms. By allowing only certain types of content, or only certain websites to run at optimal speeds, or by charging users for access to certain information, it essentially eliminates certain freedoms. In fact, making the Internet a closed source that only a few of the privileged have access to would in effect, eliminate any independent news sources and would also stifle any future innovative, creative, and diverse web content. While today you can find just about any content in any style and any format online, should net neutrality cease to exist, only certain styles and formats would be allowed online, and the Internet would essentially look very different than it does today.

While the cessation of net neutrality would be bad for the individual user, it would also be unfair towards certain companies and owners of websites. Smaller companies and websites for instance, would likely be unable to pay the high fees and taxes that cable companies would be allowed to charge and so, they would essentially disappear and only the richer websites and companies with far more resources would be allowed to have their websites downloaded at reasonable speeds, and be accessed by all users. This would create an online monopoly by these wealthier companies and would eliminate any competition or innovation.

There are many arguments for net neutrality, and for the Internet to remain the open source that it currently is. All of these arguments ultimately point to the same goal, however. That is, preserving the fairness and rights of both Internet users, as well as the companies and website owners that are currently allowing access to that information – any information, in any format, and at optimal speeds.