Saturday, January 25, 2014

Net Neutrality on Life Support

Net Neutrality is about having unbiased and unfettered access to all variety of content - websites, blogs, search engines - that populates the internet.

Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner, and other communication giants have been working to gain more control over the net. They are lobbying relentlessly to change the laws governing the public airwaves and they have petitioned the judiciary to alter the rules in their favor.

On January 14, 2014, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia gave net providers what they wanted. The court ruled against neutrality and for providers. In effect, this allows the big corporations that deliver the net to introduce their own bias into how internet content is presented to their customers. Bottom line: net content that is politically unpalatable to providers can be stifled or cut off completely from customers.

The case can be made that the traditional media has already been coopted by large corporations. Television and radio and the print media once had local ownership. Now, they are all controlled by a handful of large corporations.  Content is now managed to maximize profit, above all else. The news that is delivered through TV, Radio, and the print media is also shaped to fit the political interests of corporate owners. Fox News is the most egregious example.

The internet has been the one place where the public could go to find content that is not subject to censorship or any kind of bias.  In a net neutral world, all content is treated more or less equally. With the court's ruling, providers like Time Warner can decide what customers are able to access, and when, and how, if at all.

Net neutrality is critical to the  maintenance of a citizen democracy.   Every person should be deeply concerned about the court's decision to hand the keys to the internet over to private corporate interests. 

Here is Stephen Colbert's satirical take on net neutrality...

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