Net Neutrality needed to save the Internet

Brandon Van Meter

Brandon Van Meter

On Sept. 21, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski announced the FCC will work to enact regulations supporting “Network Neutrality” – or the ubiquitous deregulation of Internet traffic. This is a move to prohibit Internet service providers from reducing or altering their customers’ bandwidth. For example, an ISP like Comcast could reduce bandwidth to specific Web sites like Google or services like Xbox Live. While some see benefits in allowing this type of filtering, the FCC has officially stated their intent to allow completely unregulated access to the Internet. Of course, there is already a chorus of anti-regulation, pro-business legislators coming out of the woodwork with anti-Net Neutrality legislation.

Former presidential candidate and “political maverick” Sen. John McCain came to the rescue of repressed ISPs and wireless providers everywhere with his “Internet Freedom Act.”

“It will allow for continued innovation that will in turn create more high-paying jobs for the millions of Americans who are out of work or seeking new employment,” said McCain. “Keeping businesses free from oppressive regulations is the best stimulus for the current economy.”

In his opinion, the future of the Internet cannot be determined by the Federal Communications Commission, but rather the companies that provide Internet access. For him, Net Neutrality will be harmful to the economy.

Sen. McCain feels that the federal commission that is responsible for communications should not be allowed to regulate the largest communication network in the country. Since the Internet falls outside the access of the government, we should fully expect television and radio broadcasts to feature the same benefits, right?

Other opponents to the FCC’s proclamation see it as unconstitutional. The FCC cannot propose or instigate regulations without the approval of the U.S. Congress. Currently, Congress has not made a decision for or against further Internet regulations.

Agreed. That sounds fairly unconstitutional. For the FCC to simply will itself to enforce Internet traffic is backhanded, dangerous and against the basis of our government. Does that mean I want Mediacom to have the option to limit access to specific Web sites and services? Absolutely not.

Service outages and other technical issues with the Internet can be common across the country. Others still are concerned that FCC Net Neutrality regulations could hinder ISPs from accessing their networks for technical purposes.

Organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (a Net Neutrality proponent) are reluctant to support the FCC’s proposed rules. The same power that could be used for good could easily be invoked to censor the Internet for both indecent and pirated content.

The Internet should not be treated like previous forms of communication. While technologies like radio and television were limited, the Internet is a limitless resource and opportunity. It shouldn’t be placed into a myriad of government or corporate regulations. To cast the Internet into a revolving state of limbo with the FCC or ISPs in charge of what is allowed or not is dangerous and against the purpose of the Internet.

In this situation, all of this rigamarole and obfuscation can be avoided with a condensed, defined piece of regulation proposed by Congress, enforced by the FCC and monitored by the People. No single entity should be entrusted with the power of the Internet. It provides a freedom of speech that is unrivaled. In its current state, it provides the ultimate environment for democratic speech and business. ISPs should be more concerned about providing as much bandwidth (and innovation) as possible. Without the freedom of an open Internet, the end user will be stifled and left without choice. Without choice, government and corporations will have an unparalleled amount of power and will impact our country – and the world – negatively.