Monday, May 4, 2009

Have we already lost net neutrality?

We need a concise and precise understanding of why alternative media truly matters. I can hear rumblings of the ruling classes preparing to bring the Internet to heel.

Outraged moralists warn us to fear pornographers, youth corrupters and the godless. Copyright holders complain about alleged theft of intellectual properties. The tax and spend crowd see the Internet as an untapped source of huge government revenue. Nationalist mavens warn that home grown culture is threatened. Radio and TV broadcasters, grown fat during easy times, cry out against unfair competition. The corporations charging us for access complain that additional investment will be required unless they can limit traffic.

The answer to these "problems" is to tame the Internet through regulatory control. The radio industry began with countless low-power broadcasters operating without regulation. Today, the industry is so completely managed that only wealthy corporations and rich institutions can afford licenses. I've noticed recently that pages that should be available to my browser are off limits because of where I live. That means network hardware is looking inside data transmissions to evaluate my browsing habits. Is net neutrality already lost?

Contrarians may be hard to locate in today's media but, if we lose free access to the Internet, alternative opinions will be near impossible to find.

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