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The Pros and Cons of Net Neutrality

The Pros of Net Neutraility

Net neutrality is the guiding concept behind everything that we get to do on the Web. Right now, there are no restrictions of any kind on access to content on the Web, no restrictions on downloads or uploads, and no restrictions on communication methods (email, chat, IM, etc.) Net neutrality is the assurance that access to the Web and its content will not be blocked, slowed down, or sped up depending on where that access is based or who owns the access point(s).

Net neutrality in the context of the Web is somewhat new, but the concept of neutral, publicly accessible information and transfer of that information has been around since the days of Alexander Graham Bell. Basic public infrastructure, such as subways, buses, telephone companies, etc., are not allowed to discriminate, restrict, or differentiate common access, and this is the core concept behind net neutrality as well.

The Internet has grown at a phenomenal pace since its beginnings in the early 1990’s, and this growth is largely in part due to the protections and freedoms that net neutrality affords. Groundbreaking ideas and innovative products such as Google, eBay, YouTube, and torrents have gotten to where they are today because of net neutrality, and there are literally thousands of new start-ups, online stores, and simple ecommerce sites that start every day with the same chance to make it big.

Net neutrality encourages creative expression. For example, a mom talking about her kids has the exact same opportunities to be heard online as the millionaire giving a talk to his stockholders via podcast. Without net neutrality, this opportunity would be limited at best, and completely throttled at worst.

The Cons of Net Neutrality

Cable providers who invest in their networks are against net neutrality, since they believe tiered access – paying for different levels of Internet service – could pay for more sophisticated infrastructure, which would benefit all the users of that network. Their argument postulates that large companies could afford to pay higher fees for Internet access, which would in turn finance network improvements, which would eventually trickle down to the average Web user.

Net neutrality legislation could do more harm than good, especially since Internet technology changes so quickly. Inadequate laws could actually hinder commonplace safety practices unless specifically excluded, and provide loopholes for unethical exploits.


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