Keep the Internet Weird: Net Neutrality

picture of fcc headquarters

The FCC can protect the internet. Or it can let giant corporations police themselves.

The Internet has revolutionized communication. No doubt about it. Any John or Jane Doe can post on the Internet to express their thoughts or display their wares. The cost of publishing is low; the cost of reading is low, and there’s a vast variety of Web sites in ever-new formats.

At Cruzio, we provide our users with the ability to read anything on the Web and to write anything they like, just so long as they don’t break any laws. That’s called net neutrality.

What’s Net Neutrality and How Does It Affect Us?

Net neutrality means that carriers like Cruzio should continue to let Internet sites get to your computer without favoritism or, worse, censorship. Without net neutrality, Internet service providers like Cruzio, but also like AT&T, Time Warner, and Comcast could charge some Web sites for accessibility. You wouldn’t be able to get some sites as fast as others. Perhaps you wouldn’t be able to get some some sites at all. That would significantly change the way the Internet works.

If you were a large internet provider who owned a news network, and no one could tell you not to, would you make your own news programs the easiest to watch?

Under net neutrality, Internet providers and telecomm companies have flourished. Web-based businesses such as Google, Ebay and MySpace have emerged from small beginnings to capture wide public acceptance.

But after years of telecomm consolidation and deregulation, the era of open, neutral access to the Web may come to a close. The big telecommunications companies may simply have enough clout to change the way the Internet is set up so they can favor their own corporate partners.

What Can We Do About It?

Some people say consumers will never stand for corporate-controlled access to Web sites; that any such attempt will “spur outrage.” That remains to be seen.

Currently, large telecommunications companies are pushing Congress to pass the “COPE” act — H.R. 5252. It is slated to come up for a vote soon, with little public fanfare and much corporate backing. Advocates of net neutrality say this bill is a threat. You might want to learn about it and express your opinion to your representative on the subject. For more information, here are some useful sites: