Net neutrality? Check out who is on which side

Published on Tuesday, 2 May 2017 19:26
Written by THE Republican

Springfield, Mass.

Why would anyone want to impose a set of Depression-era regulations on the internet?

That’s the question that members of the anti-net neutrality set seem always to ask. As though it bolsters their argument or something. They act as if simply posing the question should end all discussion.

It’s a forward-thinking concept, one that looks to see that those who are dreaming of the next big thing in some garage somewhere are not forever relegated to obscurity.

Except that it doesn’t. At all.

Just because a framework isn’t exactly new doesn’t make it obsolete.

The same folk who scoff over Depression-era regulations being applied in 2017 are more than likely to revere our nation’s Constitution. That document - think of it as a framework for our entire government - was written in 1787. Imagine how they’d react if someone were to wave away one of their concerns over the constitutionality of one thing or another by arguing that it makes little sense to apply 18th-century rules to 21st-century problems.

Just because something is old doesn’t mean it can no longer apply. (And no, we’re not comparing a set of Federal Communications Commission regulations to the U.S. Constitution; we are merely endeavoring to point out the obvious flaw at the center of a particularly specious argument.)

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has begun the process of rolling back net neutrality regulations. He started the rollback engine in an address on Wednesday(, April 26). It won’t happen quickly, and perhaps not quietly, but it’s what he wants to see happen. And it shouldn’t.

At its heart, the concept of so-called net neutrality is quite simple: All traffic on the internet gets equal treatment. No one gets to pay to jump to the front of the line, slowing others, or making them stand still, while those who’ve paid to play speed happily down the information superhighway.

Your email or your Facebook post is no less important than a big company’s video feed.

This is not some radical concept, foisted on an unsuspecting public by a band of big government activists. It’s how the internet has been working since its creation. And the net neutrality regulations are nothing more than an effort to keep things working for everyone, not only for those who can afford to pay for better treatment.

Unsure of this? Just take a look at who is on which side. Those opposed to the net neutrality rules are mostly the giant internet service providers - AT&T and Comcast and the like. And those in favor? Google and Facebook and Netflix and countless startups you’ve not yet heard of, but could one day. Though you’ll be less likely to find out about them if net neutrality is abandoned and the cash-poor startups effectively become second-class citizens on the internet.

Seeking to keep the internet as the vital, dynamic entity it’s become isn’t a Depression-era notion. It’s a forward-thinking concept, one that looks to see that those who are dreaming of the next big thing in some garage somewhere are not forever relegated to obscurity.

The internet began neutral, favoring no one. It’s the quintessential democratic notion, as American as freedom of expression. It should remain that way.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Editorials on Tuesday, 2 May 2017 19:26. Updated: Tuesday, 2 May 2017 19:28.