OpenInternet.gov was established as a public forum to discuss net neutrality. I said my piece here:
I liken the Internet to the national highway system: It carries a large and diverse set of traffic, and allows mostly unencumbered passage from start to finish. It is actively maintained to ensure its effectiveness, and the reason is clear- America depends on it.. for almost everything. The transport of goods essential to the operation of this country depend on that road. People who travel to and from work that have a role in the economy depend on it.
That should equate to how the Internet should be treated. Like the interstate, it has many uses, some of them others may deem irrelevant or even wrong. However, if we begin to place restrictions on such use, that medium becomes less useful to everybody else that depends on it. The Internet might not carry goods and people like the interstate does, but it does carry business-oriented data, communications, and new-emerging technologies that soon the world deserves to have access to.
Following this analogy is a set of principles on which I believe the Internet should be treated/improved upon:
1. The Information Superhighway is a Dirt Road
The issue is not that there is too much traffic on the Internet. The issue is that in order for everybody to benefit, this ‘highway’ must be expanded. Instead of enforcing tiered access, we should expand its infrastructure to support the new load. I believe that the US should allocate funding to expand the backbone and the effective throughput the nation’s businesses and people can use. Our competitors in Korea and Japan have done so already. They have superior network systems to ours. Homes and businesses have faster connections. We as a global power need to allow our businesses to compete by having comparable infrastructure. Japan has an information superhighway.. we have an information dirt-road, with people threatening to place tollbooths.
2. The Information Superhighway Should Remain Open
A man might take the interstate to his favourite gentleman’s club or adult video store. Although not everyone will approve of this, he is allowed to take the road to get there. What controls whether or not if all men perform the same behaviour is not whether we establish roadblocks, but rather if the local community allows the store to be built in the first place, and if the person/family/local community approves of it.
To be blunt, if a person has an issue with certain websites being available, they should be free to do something about it.. AT HOME. Parental filters are available for this sort of thing. We cannot take values and turn them into rules that are applied for the Internet at large. Local governments can perhaps enforce certain rules, but the whole Internet should be not be held to those standards. Its purpose should be to facilitate effective and reliable flow of information from source to destination; no more, no less.
3. The Internet Should Allow All Kinds of Traffic
As long as a vehicle complies with the minimum set of standards to travel on the interstate, it can. There are no restrictions on what it can carry. This allows for people of all types to travel and carry limitless things on the interstate: food, raw materials, consumer goods, etc. If the interstate was restricted to small cars only, the entire American economy will screech to a halt.
That is the kind of thing that certain network providers wish to do- restrict what kind of data can travel unencumbered on the Internet. That premise is bad for business. Certain video games that require the Internet to transfer information, such as World of Warcraft, certainly use a fair share of bandwidth. If we begin to cap the usage on that kind of data, a multi-million-dollar American industry will suffer. It will also hinder innovation in many up-and-coming industries. These industries potentially can create jobs and bring our country out of it’s economic recession.
I assert that an Open Internet is Essential to the American way- for commerce, freedom of communication, and technological competition with other global powers. If we begin to restrict it now, we close the door to an opportunity to securing our prosperity for years to come.