If you watch TV or have seen the news lately you may have heard about something called Net Neutrality
. The cable companies are even producing commercials against it, say it is just a "scheme for the million dollar tech companies". I have Charter Cable here in St Louis and I see this commercial a couple times a week. At any rate, if you don't know what it is and you use the internet, then keep reading.
Net Neutrality is effectively the notion that all data traversing the internet is treated the same way, regardless of its purpose or destination. So for example, you are reading this on my blog, the systems allowing access to my blog look at you no differently then if you were trying to access CNN.com or Playboy.com. Another good example is phone usage, a popular trend is to use your computer as a phone or to have a service like Vonage, where your phone is plugged into your broadband and not the normal phone line. In this case your phone calls are treated the same way as your email or web browsing. Hopefully now you see how the net is neutral, it does not discriminate by service, destination or otherwise.
What cable, phone and other companies want to do is get rid of net neutrality. Why? They would like to charge the large users of the net more money. They would like to charge the Google's and Microsoft's of the word more because more people visit their sites. This sounds fine on the surface but there are two issues. One, they are already getting charged. Companies already get charged for their connection to the internet and the bandwidth they use. Especially in the case of a Google or Microsoft because they have there own data centers which SBC or whomever had to lay fiber optics to. Second, this allows for a "fast lane" and "slow lane". Basically, if a company doesn't want to pay the fee then they will be relegated to the "slow lane", which means they do not get the guarantee that customers/vistors to the site will have access to it nor the speed at which someone would access it.
Why is this a bad thing? Think of who will be able to pay the extra fee's if net neutrality is removed? By and far, large companies. Now, think of how these large companies became large companies (Google is a good example). They started out small and then grew out of demand for their product. If net neutrality did not exist at the birth of Google it is likely they would not have had the money to pay to get into the "fast lane". Which then means that if you or I tried to do a bit of searching on their site it would have been slow and cumbersome. Also think about the ramifications on free press. Would you want ma' Bell deciding what news source you use? If net neutrality is removed, your small, local news paper website may not have the money to pay the fee's but I am sure CNN or Fox News will. I hope you can see the issue here.
Removing Net Neutrality will be taking shots at innovation, freedom and the American way. Because on the net everyone is treated equally, there are no discriminatory practices. It doesn't matter who you are, what you are doing or what sites you are doing it on, everyone (that has an internet connection) has equal access and availability.