WEEK 14: December 7th – Net Neutrality Discussion

This week we will discuss an issue that’s incredibly relevant to current events (Read Comcast-GE deal) and has a particular importance to those of us who not only search for, use, and place content on the web but also rely on the content that we value (but may not be as valued by others, e.g. the Internet service providers) to be available and pass over the network in the same way that any other content does. We’ll, of course, unpack this concept this week. To do so, I have an exciting set of material assembled, in part, by a close colleague, Timothy Vollmer, at the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy (insert applause).  Ben had initially proposed the topic and I’m happy to discuss it here, on what is likely the second to last week of the Fall course, because as he points out, “[net neutrality] has a HUGE impact on school finances, the achievement gap, and how access to Open Content will be determined going forward.”  Going forward.

First, a general definition of Net Neutrality: Regardless of which internet service provider you use to connect to the Internet (say Comcast, AT&T, etc) there should be no restrictions around the type of content you can access, the types of websites you can visit, no discrimination regarding the importance of one sites content over another sites, and no restrictions on the types of devices one would use to access this content.  As usual, Jon Stewart does a great job of explaining the issue and, of course, introducing the fact that there is a bit of disagreement around the principle. Watch this video here and feel free to laugh: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/27/jon-stewart-takes-on-net_n_335517.html
Controversy, of course, means that there are any number of organizations and individuals for Net Neutrality:

Some Against:

And those attempting to help people navigate the terrain:

Since this is a pretty hot topic and something being debated among lawmakers right now, what I would like to see happen this week is for us to lay out our thoughts on the issue. Take a look at the resources here and talk about where you stand on the issue, how you feel it might affect you as an educator, how regulation going one way or another might affect you or your students, etc. If you’re searching for more information on the “debate” you might find the following resource from Tech Crunch helpful: http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/08/31/the-net-neutrality-debate-all-on-one-page/

Then, with another of Ben’s suggestions, I’d be particularly interested in thinking about how we might be part of what’s happening by actually commenting taking some of our positions and commenting on proposed “draft rules” and other aspects of the debate on the FCC’s Open Internet site: http://openinternet.ideascale.com/

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39 Responses to “WEEK 14: December 7th – Net Neutrality Discussion”

  1. mrgarin Says:

    a question: Would Net Neutrality Rules Threaten Free Speech? http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=118950

  2. emmytbots Says:

    It seems to me like this debate is part of the larger issue that big media companies have been having as more and more people are turning to the internet for cheap or free content – How do we monetize the internet? A lot of people in the movie and tv industries are running scared of the internet, and the newspapers are already staring to fall. Blocking net neutrality is obviously going to be in the interest of big media companies. Creating a tiered system of access would seem to impose their traditional model onto new media.

    • techsavvyed Says:

      You’ve hit the nail right on the head Emily! This really is a confrontation between old media and new media consumers. Old media swiftly bought up (or rapidly bought into) internet companies, only to realize that they had successfully spent billions of dollars to do just what they had been doing for years; minding the “dumb pipes” that we pass all of our information through.

      Time Warner thought they were getting a good deal when they brought up AOL, and now look at how sad that company has become, spun off as a weak independent after Time Warner cut it’s loses and ran last month. These media companies want to ensure there’s a steadily INcreasing stream of revenue, and they just can’t do that maintaining the status quo. The best example of trying to artificially inflate revenue by taking control is going on right now with the NBC/Comcast deal. Comcast sees the writing on the wall; they’re facing a HUGE populist movement in support of net neutrality, so they’re viying to purchase one of the largest content producers. Once they can control Hulu, NBC, TBS, and all of the other NBC Universal channels, they’re be able to place content behind a tiered streaming system (since they are one of the largest internet providers as well), thus generating more revenue.

      It’s really a classic plan for creating a monopoly. Control the content, and control the way the content is delivered matches the old railroad monopolies perfectly; control the rails, the trains, AND the cargo onboard the trains = you dictate the price! There really is cause for concern here, and while it doesn’t really infringe on free speech (I could theoretically setup my own network of computers, string a few lines around my neighborhood and call it “Ben’s Internet), it does infringe on the free market. It’s ironic that certain senators cry out against net neutrality in that it will harm the marketplace that is the internet, when in fact, it will actually HURT those doing business on the internet to have to endure a tiered system of access :(

  3. rondap Says:

    Media Post article–
    Emmytbots: Can you even imagine if the government was the one in charge of what could or not be on the Internet? I would guess that thye would share the messages that they want for us to hear & see.
    I can envision that there would be “ads” that would show health care companies that they might recommend vs another or maybe try to convince us of what new policies they want us to buy into this week or next.
    What about the war that does not seem to go away they could use the Internet to show us their plan and help to get us to buy into it…..seems a good way to share their message with us.
    Red Dawn the movie….insn’t that movie about a govt takeover/propaganda movement ….ummmI think that movie is currently being shot in Michigan. Scary!
    (Correct me if I have my movies messed up)

  4. rondap Says:

    One of the articles talks about the FCC regulating the Internet it certainly seems like they are kidding. Competition is good, profit is great! If you charge me too much….I leave and go onto the next company willing to challenge your high profit margin and I am again the winner. This is not really that hard to see that it may sound good to have the govt oversee so that they can “protect me”….ha I would rather go without than have the govt make my choices for what can and can not be on the Internet for me to view. What a scary discussion to get into I figure as soon as there is more political time to waste on this area someone will make it a case and “save us” from the evil Internet.

  5. shavonne3 Says:

    net neutrality…crazy!!!
    People should be allowed to make individual decision on what they want to read, watch, or whatever info they acquire on the net. My provider should have no say. I am paying them for access not to “screen” or make decisions about what they think I should have access to. For governments to even attempt to think about a legislation on this issue, makes me think I am in a communist country with a dictator ruling and deciding on what information I will have access to(okay maybe I went to far) , who knows what will be next, our tv shows, the books we can read….

    • annarene2002 Says:

      It’s happening in our world! When I was in China I was denied access to half the websites I wanted to get onto!

      • fourclaws Says:

        Google does this, Google redirects you to their country based websites. Remember when we were in Geneva, Google when to the the swiss Goggle not Google.com

        since Google is a business there are part of the market place, so why does Google redirect you away from Google.com when you are not in the US.

    • techsavvyed Says:

      You want to talk about timely, check out the headlines about what the Australia government is considering. Our government stepping in to impose Net Neutrality is NOTHING compared to what they’re proposing with a mandatory Internet blacklist:

      http://www.neoseeker.com/news/12594-australia-planning-internet-blacklist-legislation-/

    • wendy Says:

      Shavonne, as I was reading through some of the links I was reminded of the filtering system the Chinese government has implemented to ‘protect’ the Chinese people from what they believe to be information too sensitive for people to have access to. I hope the US isn’t heading in that direction.

    • emmytbots Says:

      Wait, Shavonne – the legislation being proposed would NOT allow the government to dictate what you have access to. It would simply stop your network provider (some big company like Comcast) from dictating what you have access to. Net neutrality means leaving the control in your hands and making sure no else (with more money and power) can control your choices.

  6. rondap Says:

    AMEN!

  7. sfornero Says:

    As with any issue that I debate, I am trying to look at both sides of Net Neutrality before I set up my position. Due to the nature of the people I associate with, how I was raised and the sources I use for information I naturally fall on the side of Pro-Neutrality. I am trying to see the other side of the argument though to better understand why a user/citizen (not just a company who can profit) would want a non-neutral internet.

    (This is my intro to attempt a non-neutral point of view…even though I am fairly sure that I am pro-neutral)

    First off from a philosophical/political standpoint, I the user do not want the government infringing on any type of information access – therefore I do not want them to have the power to create or remove a neutrality law on the passing of information.

    2nd – I am a simplistic user of the internet – I use it to check my email and search a topic every now and then. I would prefer it if those sites ran faster, and since I use comcast email that would be a priority for comcast and thereby speed up access.

    3rd – We are in a “capitalistic society” (even though all of the bailouts & social policy have negated this fact) and therefore if a business can develop a method of increasing there profits without physically or mentally harming me they should – if I do not like it I can switch to another company because competition is good and our government has prevented monopolies (oh wait look at the irony….social/economic policy)

    4th – I am a concerned parent and I would like to be able to buy a package from my internet provider that prevents inappropriate material from being accessible to my children. &/or I am a member of a religious/political group that wants to create and ISP that only directs content that we approve.

    Ok, thats the best I can do in the sense of non-neutral arguments. As I write them I cringe because I do not really agree with any of them – except maybe the 1st, but in affect non-regulation is regulation of its own. I fear that in the end run we have a bigger issue of “WHO” controls whether or not we get legislation. If we allow the government to put net-neutrality into law, we are giving them the power to govern the internet – and what will stop them from putting of anti-neutral filters. On the flip-side is it better to allow money-hungry ISPs to have the veto power in an area by area basis?

    True net-neutrality is ideal but how neutral is internet access at all. In our schools we already have filters and blockers. We (in some schools) show Channel 1 TV so that we can have access to cable television, and this is a selected source for news – not neutral. I think that at least with net-neutrality the control of what is seen or not seen remains local and debateable – I can discuss filter decisions with my administration if I feel it infringes on the educational process – I cannot have this same discussion with an ISP (realistically speaking).

    • Johnathon Beals Says:

      With regard to point #4, parents and those who want the content of their internet access limited already have options that they themselves can enact, either through hardware or software, so I’m not too sympathetic to that one in particular.

      “I think that at least with net-neutrality the control of what is seen or not seen remains local and debateable – I can discuss filter decisions with my administration if I feel it infringes on the educational process – I cannot have this same discussion with an ISP (realistically speaking).”

      Exactly. Yes. Full agreement. If you really want freedom, resist attempt by EITHER forces (govt or ISPs) to alter your access.

    • techsavvyed Says:

      VERY cringe worthy, Sarah, but I like that you’re sticking your neck out to think about things from both sides :)

  8. fourclaws Says:

    net-neutrality

    as I read about the electric grid,

    it made me think, sure it does not matter if you plug a toaster or an iPod; but even the electric grid has it controls.
    During the black out of ???, everybody loss their electricity, I think my house was over 12 hours without power, as I listen to the radio and listened to all the places without electricity the list was long. I live next to 3 oil refineries and many chemical plants,well the oil refineries were without power for less than hour. it was not dark for hours, as I drove around everywhere was dark except the oil refineries. They had their lights on and were making gasoline. As Donald Trump says it is business it is not personal.
    A business will always have control, it depends on how much they use it. this is a grey area because business are in business to make money. For example, can you go to Wendy’s to buy a Big Mac. Wendy’s has control over their content.
    ISP provide a service and they need a return on investment,
    they is probable why the ISP service providers are the cable company or phone company. Is this a good thing or a bad thing i guess we will find out. One thing is for sure with the current business model there are the haves and have nots when it comes to good quality high speed internet service.

  9. mrgarin Says:

    Based on the posts so far, it seems like there is a general fear of over-regulation and that the government shouldn’t stick its hand in what is best controlled by “the market”. For those who want more information to support these sort of arguments, I recommend browsing through a number of resources on The Cato institute’s website, here: http://www.cato.org/internet-governance-regulation and also the organization: Hands Off the Internet: http://www.handsoff.org/

    For those of you who haven’t responded and, perhaps, see the issue a bit different, how would you react to some of the main concerns presented earlier?

    • fourclaws Says:

      I am not convinced “the market” always knows best.
      Lets look at some example on market disasters, GM and Chrysler.(actually these companies should no longer exist based on “the market”), the tigers sent their one of their best players to the Yankees, the Toronto Blue Jays pay the Phillies 6 million dollar to take their best pitcher. How many banks are no longer in business. Businesses only look our for themselves and their shareholders, sure people value freedom but ISP have to make money to stay in business.
      I live beside a Shell refinery and a Suncor refinery, they only look out for themselves, I have a hard believing the “market ” knows best.
      The “market” so far as dictated that where I work, noone will offer broadband service, the only services available are dail up or satellite my employer has wireless but that is Band gov’t only, with so many trees around cell service is bad, most cell phones barely work. at my house I have to go with satellite service and pay $100 per month for a 200mb daily limit.
      I have never watched a movie over the internet, nor have I watched a tv show over the internet.
      from my stand point “the market” is not servicing my needs. If I wanted better internet I would have to move.
      this is a very complex problem, it depends on your perspective, I am sure if your employer and your home has broadband service you could think everybody has broadband. I think the market is having problems making sure everybody has a good fast connection or do you live in a internet “dead zone”

  10. rondap Says:

    This has to be one of my favorites discussion posts….in the past 2 weeks here in the states there seems to be on the govt agenda much to be regulated! But that is certainly not a debate that this small business owner is willing or able to get into a discussion at this time I am tired of worring about it.
    Let me say that the Tampa article points out an interesting thought… many of us use the internet for multiple things so should we all be charged same fee if we are only using parts say to down load music or simply surfing the web for pleasure? My parents can barely email they pay for a service that I honestly feel badly for them because at our house we are always on or at least using for the music/movies or other I really do get my monies worth! But again if I were to pay for each of these I would be much more careful I would WATCH the amount of time used by family members almost like watching or say monitoring the heat & A/C bills…..sersiously to me if you we are comparing the costs and thinking about monitoring then there is a health care issue out there that says that we all need healthcare no matter what….I say that we ALL NEED the internet and we are all going to pay for this so that all of us can enjoy the internet and get the pleasure that we techys get, right!? Look what they are missing.
    Healthcare is important but I think car insurance is also here in Michigan. MI law says I must have it. When I lived in Ohio I did not have to have it….I say we need to regulate everything and be sure that we all have Internet because without it we would be miserable and look what others are missing if they do not have it.
    I am being silly in some places but honestly think about how much we as a group use the computer/internet–scary.

  11. rondap Says:

    A point above about healthcare is that if we were to pay for individual parts and that were regulated…we may be more careful about running to doctor over common colds or simple things that really cost we almost never would go to ER to make it easier for us if no other options. As a parent ER is great on the weekends when you have a child ill and you are trying to make a decision like a doctor would have to make yet without the 12+ years of schooling….there does need to be a new way to ease the healthcare issues.

  12. echapelle Says:

    …really?! Talk about a breach of the rights of freedom of speech! This topic immediately focuses my thoughts again, as did the topic of copyrights, on all of the artists that are using the Internet for exposure. Internet providers are just going to “cut them off” by putting sandbags in their shoes and considering it a fair race? The Internet and free speech are prevalent in the modern world and these conservative money holders are just going to decide they’d like it a different way? It seems unethical and honestly a little shady. This company ADC, aka A Dishonest Company, identifies themselves as un-opposing to net-neutrality but is actually a “listed as a member organization in a consortium opposed to net neutrality laws!” The censoring and impeding of net neutrality seems like a total regression of technological innovation and growth. It’s horrible what a couple extra bucks in the bank can do, no matter what the consequences are for others. It actually seems humorous that anyone expects the addition of “internet freedom”, (which, in actuality means the freedom to censor) to make it over the countless hurdles it takes to get to the floor of congress, and then actually be passed? Yeah right. And the rich get richer….

  13. Johnathon Beals Says:

    I’m for Net Neutrality, mostly.

    I do believe there are logical instances when an ISP would want to discriminate between the kinds of data being provided. Some of the articles mentioned the difference between file-level data, and that of real-time low-latency streaming data like video or voice. The problem is, that those kinds of differences really have no relevance on the AMOUNT of data being pushed, and thus charging more for it makes little sense. The difference between data when I download a new piece of software that is, say, 10 MB in size, and watching a 10 minute YouTube clip is purely in how I experience that data in real time. If my software package download speeds up or slows down, I don’t really experience much frustration. It’ll get here when it gets here. But if my YouTube video stream degrades, then it stutters and bumps, and makes for a crappy viewing experience.

    This is where network discrimination has a place.

    But the effect of this isn’t so much solved by charging users for that kind of data differently, but just how the routers handle it. It is a technical problem, not a monetary/market problem.

    I also don’t buy the argument that Comcast wants to charge me differently so that it can upgrade equipment. I think I and everyone else pay them more than enough each month that they could, if they chose, upgrade to keep pace with traffic demands. I think it’s more about them trying to get by with as little network upgrading and maintenance as they can. If that means creating artificial scarcity of bandwidth and concocting elaborate pay-for-different-data schemes, then I guess they’d rather do that.

    Now, if I really DID have a choice between ISPs, and could in practice decide that I didn’t like Comcast charging me based on the kind of data (rather than my overall use), then I might be a little more lenient. As it is, where I live we have a non-choice between crummy ATT or crummy Comcast service. Such a state of affairs does not allow for me to “vote with my feet” and seek other more open services should Comcast decide that Google traffic is worth more than ICanHasCheezBurger.com.

    I also am lothe to side with those who warn of slippery slopes when the government gets its regulatory hands on the Internet. The argument that “what is to stop the FCC from censoring web content at a later date” ignores the fact that this slippery-slope also applies just as equally to the privately owned ISPs. What is to stop THEM from becoming the gatekeepers and arbiters of what they’ll deliver?

    Besides, the argument of whether or not the FCC has authority as it stands to enact Net Neutrality regulations is a separate argument to whether or not Net Neutrality is preferable.

    Lastly, and this is the part where everyone here in this course should care, is this question: If the ISPs want to have the freedom to discriminate between content, and charge differently for certain sites to load faster, etc, how does that effect things like Open Content? Where will Wikipedia end up in such a world? Sites that run on the model of many independent users coming together for a non-profit objective; how will they fare in such a stratified internet? Google might have a business model that allows them to pay for greater availability in such an ecosystem, but would your new site for teachers to download free lesson plans submitted by other teachers fare as well?

    This is the crux of the matter I feel. The internet was born and became great BECAUSE the network does not discriminate between what you are accessing. Joe-Schmoe in his basement has as much opportunity to succeed and find his niche on this internet as ATT does. This is why citizen journalism, blogs, collaborative/cooperative ventures like Wikipedia, and all the things that make the internet great exist. They exist because they came into the marketplace with the same opportunities from the get-go.

    • wendy Says:

      if i pay $50 a month, just to have a cable modem in my house, and every one of the other 13 families in my building does the same, and everyone on my entire block does the same, in their slightly larger and slightly smaller buildings, and everyone in my neighborhood, borough, city, for the most part, does the same in their residence, and even in many businesses, how is it possible that the ISPs don’t have the needed equipment to upgrade the hardware? What is it, more DNS servers? More cable? More switches? The more data there is, the bigger the ‘tube’ needs to be, but is our $50 a month paying to send the data down the tube? What’s the cost analysis on that? Why isn’t there more fiscal transparency amongst the ISPs? Heavily guarded secrets so they can make more money and claim less responsibility for service and content. I’m for net neutrality, all the way. Yahoo should get to me equally as fast as Mariolopezsbodywithjohnstewartsheadandaunicorn.net and i’m fine with that.

      • techsavvyed Says:

        There’s really something that you’re not addressing though, Wendy. Yes, technology continues to get cheaper, but only in terms of the hardware and the physical material needed to transfer the data.

        The cost of technology in terms of labor and human resources continues to increase. As the internet and our networking systems become increasingly complex, the cost of hiring additional specialists, line engineers, sales people, customer service reps, managers, etc. goes up, up, up. Add to that the people you need to ensure quality transmission of the data, and the ever-increasing need for highly qualified network security personnel, and it’s a nightmare how much staff an ISP must have in order to keep the entire system running.

        Yes, I agree that it seems a bit outrageous to have to pay $50 a month for Internet, but at the same time, there are many more costs than just the technology to consider.

    • emmytbots Says:

      Very well-put, Jonathon. You encapsulated the whole debate. I am scared of a non-neutral internet. I don’t have tv, and haven’t for years, because it is full of crappy programming and b.s. advertisements. (It’s not worth my hard-earned money – if I like a show, i buy the dvds.) If the internet goes the same way, what good will it be anymore? Everything we have learned and discussed – not just here, but throughout this entire program – will be meaningless without neutrality. Access to information, the ability to collaborate and contribute in meaningful and far-reaching ways, the democratization of the internet – all that could disappear. Do we really need just another cable network? That certainly wasn’t the vision that birthed the internet, and it isn’t what most users want or need. And besides, any time John McCain speaks about technology (or anything else that has any relevance for that matter), you should just turn off the tv.

  14. annarene2002 Says:

    Disclaimer: I was unaware of the debate over net neutrality before this assignment. ☺

    My number one question would be is there an option C? I don’t like the idea of Internet service providers having control or the government having control. I think the ISP’s will get money hungry and the government is already influenced too much by people/corporations with money. We already pay for certain applications, internet speed, and software to improve our experience with the internet. I don’t feel like someone should limit what I can or cannot do on the Internet. I really agree with John Wilbank’s statement on rights of an Internet user, “ I should have a right as an internet user to have access to neutral architecture that lets me innovate with no more restriction then fulfilling the technical protocols.”

    Think about America’s most visited websites many of them started because of the limitless opportunities of the Internet. If we start to put limits or constraints on the usage of the Internet many ideas that have not been thought of will never exist. Developers of Internet applications have to have motivation to create and if there is no guarantee their inventions will work on any Internet connection, why bother?

  15. mrgarin Says:

    As I read through the comments from this week, I can’t help but feel that there’s a great misunderstanding around what Net Neutrality actually means. I think people are confusing government regulation with “control”. So, let me help clarify.

    What the FCC and government regulators are seeking to do through Net Neutrality is to prevent control. They are not suggesting that the government would suddenly decide what content you or I can download or with whom you or I can communicate. What regulation is attempting to do is to leave the Internet as is and to prevent ISPs from giving preferential treatment to certain types of content or devices.

    I do not want to necessarily shape your opinion on the issue, but I really encourage you who feel strongly about the issue of non-regulation to offer up stronger arguments against it. To encourage this, watch this video and offer up counter arguments: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFUm1PRxJOQ

    • amyjlinton Says:

      Garin, thanks for clarifying this for us. After reading, re-reading and reviewing the articles/videos on this subject I found myself confused (easily done these days J). I thought I understood it but then second-guessed myself when reading some the other thoughts, hence the re-reading. I also thought “there is no way someone is going to dictate how and why I use the internet.” Maybe it was the way it was presented or maybe it was when I heard the words government, internet and regulations that my subconscious took over and the dukes came out. Is it from our past and how our government handled regulations that make us so defensive? Especially when we feel our freedom of speech might be threatened. It’s one of our most safe guarded, and to me, the most important right we have as a U.S. citizen.

      Let’s face it; we’ve got a great thing going with the internet. Some may disagree. I love the ability to express our thoughts, feelings and beliefs in such a public forum. There are those who fear it and the access it has or gives. It’s true that the information you once thought was safe can be so easily accessible and the negative exposure for our children is even greater, BUT the pros far out weigh the cons. I like to think that it’s helped our world become more aware and more accepting of each other. When I was young, this form of communication was in sci-fi movies and I didn’t know a world with it. Today, I can’t imagine one without it. It’s become an extension of who we are. I am glad our elected officials are stepping in and trying to regulate the internet and stop what seems to be a greed driven opposition. ( I can’t believe I said that!) If there is no net neutrality then, in a sense, our rights as citizens are violated and our freedom to speak will be limited if not silenced entirely.

    • techsavvyed Says:

      There’s a great website focused on grass roots activism and provides a nice way to contact your representatives to help them understand the Net Neutrality issue. Since a few people were confused, I’m sure there’s some lawmakers confused as well.

      http://www.savetheinternet.com/

      The Save the Internet site is a great resource for informing yourself, but more importantly a way to inform others. I’ve had their helpful little widget on my website for a year and a half now, and some of the videos they’ve produced do a great job of explaining the cause.

  16. maryspen Says:

    This was a good video, and in combination with the other readings I have come to understand the arguments much better…the last line of the video sums it up, and also presents the problem of inequality in internet access. I agree it should be free and fair and available for everyone, but this seems like the impossible dream.
    Part of the problem is the ISP’s try to be both the speakers and the access providers according to the ACLU, while content and distribution are two very different businesses. I was very concerned when “Comshaft” purchased NBC, because in my opinion they personify the corporate giant who is interested in profits above everything else, and was afraid they would use this medium to try to change the face of the communication convergence which is now happening…I think Jonathan had some good points about them doing only as much as they have to, (and you can tell I am not a Comcast fan.)
    This is why I am in favor of the FCC regulating the big telecom companies which have powerful lobbies in Washington. I do believe these companies are mostly concerned w profits and not necessarily regulating what people can do on the internet, only how they can charge for what people do, which is the main point of net neutrality…I like the comparison to the phone company which provides the service but can’t decide which calls can be made on the phone.
    I still worry about low income people and people living in remote areas where broadband is not readily available, or those who cannot afford the higher tier of service that may be necessary to access certain systems such as healthcare or educational info. I do think this would be a form of discrimination to not allow everyone equal access, even though internet speed is usually charged at different levels. We have a client, a local internet, cable and telecom provider who is in the process of trying to provide smaller and rural communities w wireless internet access throughout certain areas in Michigan. I am not sure what the profit model is, although I believe it is inexpensive.
    I would hate to see companies like this able to be squelched by the larger telecom companies, although some of them are clients as well…
    So I would say I am totally in favor of net neutrality and feel it is absolutely necessary for the internet to continue to grow and expand, however I do believe there is a lot of misinformation out there, which causes people to be confused about the issues…and the corporate giants will continue to seek profits at every point along the way.

  17. amkharper Says:

    I do not think a more important debate has occurred since Thomas Mann advocated for the development of public education. I actually think that a neutral internet has the potential to bring about even more change on a much larger scale. I see the internet and the idea of open media as the potential “great equalizer” among people and nations. If everyone had equal access, the potential for positive change in the world is limitless. The internet allows exchange to happen in cases where it would not be possible in any other way. I see this as sort of a “hive mentality”. Why should only a few people with access to education and power be responsible for making world decisions? Everyone should have the ability to share their ideas and create new things on the web. Knowledge should not belong only to those who can afford it. The internet must remain neutral so that it can continue to evolve. Now we just need to find a way for everyone to have equal access regardless of their means and geographic coordinates.

  18. amkharper Says:

    Um…correction…Horace Mann

  19. abrooke7413 Says:

    Students that do not have computer and internet access at home have a documented disadvantage academically as those who do have these resources at home. More and more classrooms are becoming technology dependent. If we know that the internet is such an important resource, shouldn’t we search for ways to make it more accessible to people rather than less accessible. We must try to lessen the gaps between socio-economic groups of students, not make them more pronounced by making the internet a luxury.
    I also think that if companies are concerned about pirating they should make their media less expensive. As I understand it, the fiberoptics are already in place to “move” the data around the internet. One can purchase media online eliminating the cost of the retail middle man. Ultimately it will be the artists and the costs associated with them and production of the media that will constitute the majority of media costs. This should alow, in my opinion, for costs of media to be significantly reduced. If, lets say, a song was only a few cents more people may be inclined to attain the song in a legal way rather than be tempted to pirate it. I think there needs to be a middle ground on the issue. I do not think trying to block “pirate sites” by blocking access to certain cites will work. I think one should look at the source of the issue, people feel they are paying too much, rather than at the end result, people resort to piracy.


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