Monday, June 26, 2006

Net Neutrality 

One of the issues facing Congress and public policy makers is the issue of "Net Neutrality." The heated debate continues among Internet Service Providers, backbone carriers, Legislators, community technology advocates and a host of others.

Today, on one of the list-serves I participate in, the question was posed "Could someone explain to me why i ( young, black poor male, frequently offline) should really care about net neutrality? I think I understand the arguments and still it seems pointless. "

Andy Carvin's (www.andycarvin.com ) response was helpful and enlightening.

"From the time the Net was created until now, there's been no discrimination against those of us who create content on the Net. Anyone with access has equal right to post new content and execute their own online software - the underlying infrastructure won't discriminate against anyone.
If network neutrality ends, internet providers will be able to discriminate against what content is available to the public. For example, cable ISPs that own their own content streams could decide to block all video bloggers and sites like youtube.com because video takes up more bandwidth and competes with their own service. So they offer high-speed access to multimedia content of their own and their business partners, while slowing down or blocking access to services that refuse to deal with them or pay up. Corporate content gets put in the fast lane, while public media gets put in the slow lane - or blocked entirely.
Imagine if Walmart opened up a store in your town and acquired all the local roads in the process. They could set up roadblocks or tollroads to their competitors, while offering a superhighway directly to their own doorstep. So while the underlying issue is about network discrimination, it translates into ISPs controlling access to content, and restricting free speech and free expression."

What are your thoughts?

I agree. The internet is a great opportunity to be one's self without discrimination. I am half black and half white, am married to a white man, and am frequently discriminated because of all I am and because of whom I am with. On the net, that doesn't matter.

Furthermore, there is a lot being done by people who care, like yourself, to end the digital divide.
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