It may surprise you and I expect I will probably get some nasty e-mails about this but I am not a supporter of this Net Neutrality movement that everybody is up in arms about. While I agree that we have some serious problems with our current system ranging from cable company monopolies to crazy prices for crappy speeds compared to the rest of the civilized world, I believe the net neutrality concept that everybody is pushing for right now is a horrible idea that will come back to bite us all if it goes through. Why? Let me explain.
There are three primary reasons to my objection to the Net Neutrality that pretty much every website, blog and podcast I listen to are supporting.
First, I want to address the whole “common carrier” / Title 2 thing. If you go and take a look at the Title 2 that everybody is saying the FCC should use to classify ISPs as common carriers, it wasn’t designed to regulate internet companies and makes no sense to try to shoehorn them into those regulations where they really wouldn’t do anything because it wasn’t designed for the internet and the things going on today. And even if it did, do you really want your ISP to become a utility? Think about the current utilities you have to pay for already like electricity, water and gas. With those, you don’t pay a flat monthly fee like you currently do with your internet. Instead, you pay based on what you use which is something you internet provider would love because it would mean a lot more money for them, especially with all of the Netflix, Hulu and YouTube lovers out there who use tons of data. If you already pay for internet access and a subscription to Netflix, do you really want to pay more just to have the privilege of using your Netflix subscription? I know I don’t! And what about horribly low data caps? You already have to deal with those with your mobile carrier (assuming you aren’t on Sprint who still offers unlimited data), do you want to have to deal with that from you ISP, especially when most people don’t have more than one option to go to if they don’t like there current ISP? I know I don’t!
Speaking of data, my second major point is data has never been treated equal (any experienced IT person will tell you that as it is vital for the management of network resources) and it shouldn’t be! Sure, having your Netflix speeds downgraded would suck but if you are in a situation where you are being operated on by a surgeon who is working remotely, don’t you think the surgeons connection should be considered more important and given a higher priority given that your life is on the line compared to someone going on a House of Cards binge? If it was me or someone that I care about on that operating table, I would want the doctor to have the best connection possible, not one that was having to compete with traffic from unimportant things like cat videos and tweets about what somebody is having for lunch.
Finally, perhaps one of the most worrying things about the proposals so far is how the benefits of this neutrality and such would only apply to ‘legal’ content. So while companies like Netflix might ‘benefit’ from these proposals, what do you think is going to happen to your bittorrent traffic? Do you recall what Comcast did a few years ago when they were meddling with Bittorrent traffic thanks to the company Sandvine? They were slowing things down greatly and not allowing you to seed to others regardless of whether the content you were transferring was something illegal like a movie or something completely legal like a Linux distribution. If the current proposals are allowed to happen, you can expect this to come back but much worse than it was before because now it will have the support of the government where before it was the government that stepped in and stopped it. And what about sites sites where people say things that thanks to all of the ludicrous anti-bullying laws that are taking the nation by storm, could be deemed illegal because somebody was offended by something they read on there? This anti-bullying garbage makes it trivial to deem a site illegal based on what somebody said on it and with that goes any net neutrality protections you may have. Between the anti-bullying laws (which may as well be called anti-free speech laws) and ‘net neutrality’, soon the internet will be a shadow of what it is today where free speech is no longer welcome and the amount you will be paying will be a lot higher than today.
So what do I propose instead if anything at all? I say leave the internet alone because once you start making rules for it, you are going to screw things up and you are going to end up with consequences you never intended. If you want to do something that is best for consumers, do something to bring some competition to the market. Competition will allow the industry to keep itself in check while giving people options which they currently don’t have now because ISPs like Comcast have monopolies in practically every market they are currently in. Competition is the answer, not net neutrality!
Now that you have heard my rambling, let me know what you think in the comments below!
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