I Am Your ISP And I Approve This Message
Newscoma has a great post on the issue of Net Neutrality. It happens to be an issue near and dear to my heart, so I'm going to piggyback on her excellent coverage and drop my two cents on the pile. (Coincidentally, that is the same amount I earn every day from Something In The Sidebar That I Can't Talk About.)
I've been in love with the Internet since 1988...back when it was all UseNets and BBS' and the place were you went to argue with other geeks at other schools about glass flow, cookie recipes and Star Trek captains. To be honest, few people even cared about the thing. It was mostly a joke, and I was fine with that. Then AOL got built, September never ended and the oldhats were stuck accepting the InterNet as a home for all mankind.
Well, dagnabit, I made my piece with all these folks a long frickin' time ago. The powers that be who created HTML and gave The World The Web in the mid-90s did a right fine job of convincing all us geeks to turn loose our hold on this last great frontier.
I can't say it's been all bad. Sure you have those periwinkle pages with purple script writing, cherubs along the edge, ladybug cursor shadows and midis blaring tinny electronic versions of "Wind Beneath My Wings" as you read odes to dead cats and recipes for pie. But the Internet has also given us easier Christmas shopping and instant answers to inane questions that keep you up nights. (Thank you, Wikipedia.)
The greatest and worst thing about the Web is the fact that anyone can put up a page about something and land in the search categories alongside anyone else. Search Google for "Chocolate Vine" and you'll get a bunch of botanists and me. I'm right there between the Federal Government's pdf on Invasive Plants and the USDA's official plant profile. Talk about a level playing field. That's the Net Neutrality in a Nutshell. Pass the Nutella.
But now we have some people who believe the net should be a payola scheme. You know how you get that sweet black crude of bandwidth pumped into your home or office by BellSouth or Comcast or OtherGuy? Well, now BellSouth and Comcast and OtherGuys want to change the way the whole thing works. They want to charge fees. And if Barnes and Noble pays a big fee to the Providers, then their page will open faster. Pages that don't pay the providers may not open at all, or may only open after an ad placed there by the PROVIDER YOU ARE ALREADY PAYING A GOBLOT OF MONEY TO. It's as if they want the entire Internet to turn into a crappy Salon article. ("You can either subscribe or view a short ad for a Free Day Pass!")
So. I'm oversimplifying it a bit but here it is in a nutshell. The people you are paying money to deliver access to the Internet would now like to control what you see on the Internet. They would like to not only get money from you to see things, but to also get money from web page owners to have their pages be seen. What could this mean? Well, it could also mean that they would control your access to news. Say you get the web through Comcast. And they don't want you to see a story that will influence your opinion against their company. So, those websites are off your access list.
If you've ever worked in a corporate setting, you've had a Network Guy whose been in charge of the Filtering software. And you know that if you cross the Network Guy, he'll block your access to SoapNet. This is kinda like that only bigger.
And it's wrong.
UPDATE: Whoops. Forgot to hotlink to Save The Internet. So go to Save The Internet for all the nitty gritty.