by Jennifer Bowman
I have recently become aware of an issue that has been bothering me immensely. There's a new hot term in the computer lingo world, known simply as "net neutrality." And for once, I'm not quite sure how I stand on this issue.
There are two sides, and two main websites that support these sides. Handsoff.org is against net neutrality, and SavetheInternet.com is for it. Now, this still brings us to the point. What, exactly, IS net neutrality?
Well, the technical term is NETWORK neutrality. Coined by a Columbia Law professor by the name of Tim Wu, it represents three basic ideas about the Internet: non-discrimination, interconnection, and access. People who support net neutrality think the Internet should be a free, open place as regulated by the government. They fear that if a private organization "owns" the internet, such as AT&T, they will make sites like Google run slower, or even not run at all, so that a user must use Yahoo instead, who in turn gives them money. They want the government to step in and make sure that no one "sells" the government.
But major cable companies oppose this theory. They believe that the government doesn't need to be regulated, and want to be able to deliver web content to their viewers as quickly as possible. Those who oppose net neutrality say that people are trying to fix a problem that doesn't even exist. They bring up a good point: their opposition can only cite two examples of big companies taking advantage of their web content - and it happened in Canada.
And do we really need the government to regulate the Internet? I generally oppose any new inclusion of any form of bureaucracy, especially in regards to something as simple as the Internet. I don't like restricting anybody's free right to commerce.
So, I e-mailed my senator, Mel Martinez, and my representative, Allen Boyd. Even though Allen Boyd is a Democrat (my dad ensured me that he is a DINO - Democrat in Name Only) he still e-mailed me back when I asked him questions about net neutrality, over Republican Mel Martinez.
Representative Boyd informed me that the FCC has already put a few Internet regulations into place. He said consumers on the web are entitled to four things: to access the lawful Internet content of their choice, to run applications and services of their choice, to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network, and to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers. However, he ultimately thinks that open communication in the Internet is a good thing, but that Congress will not tax the Internet or regulate its growth.
I hope I can trust Congress on this issue. I've never really been in a position where I wasn't completely certain of my opinion. Because at the time of publication, I will FINALLY be able to vote. My lifetime goal is to never miss an election. After being involved in politics my whole life, it's nice to be able to back up my beliefs by choosing who I want to represent them.
I'm excited to be moving back to Cleveland for Lee University - and I hope to hear from my readers when I'm there!