Friday, November 6, 2009

Network Neutrality

I tend to think that government is too involved in our daily lives, with many laws and restrictions on things that should be left alone. On the issue of network neutrality, I was immediately torn between both sides of the issue. On the one hand, I strongly value the freedom and open-endedness of the internet that we mostly enjoy today. On the other hand, it would be yet another government regulation that may be unnecessary. It's taken a lot of careful thought, but I believe this is an issue that government should stay out of; at least in our present situation.

The concept of network neutrality is about enforcing freedom on the internet. Without network neutrality, internet service providers may target and restrict bandwidth as they see fit. Generally, this has not been much of a problem, although Comcast has disrupted peer-to-peer network traffic in the past. There is potential for some more sinister restrictions, such as internet service providers requiring websites to pay them or have their bandwidth reduced to their customers, but so far this hasn't happened.

With network neutrality, internet service providers would be required to treat all network traffic as equal. Internet service providers would serve as direct ports to the internet, with no filters or targeted bandwidth restrictions for their customers. My first instinct is to support network neutrality for preserving freedom and equality on the internet, but after careful consideration, I don't believe the government should be stepping in directly on the issue. It's a fix for a problem that has yet to manifest itself in any significant way, with Comcast's policy being the only real example of something that it would have prevented. While I have a certain dislike for Comcast, they are free to provide their services in any way that they want to, just as we're free to get our services from somebody else. That freedom, the idea of a free market, will keep the industry evolving and adapting to the desires of the customers, which is why I believe that government intervention is unnecessary.

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