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Author: TMFinept Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Coverage Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 753883  
Subject: Re: The courts get one right Date: 4/6/2010 7:25 PM
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I am a computer engineer and I work in the "high tech" industry. As a result, I interface with a lot of people all over the world on matters concerning the present state of technology including, in a more personal capacity, the role of technology in society. I cannot think of a single person with technical qualifications that I have ever spoken to on this subject from any background, in any country or of any political leaning that thought Net Neutrality was anything but exactly the right way to handle corporate interests as they concern the Internet.

This ruling is a victory for free speech the same way as a book burning might be, which is to say it's the exact opposite.

The objective of Net Neutrality is to guarantee equal access to any content that consumers might want to access by means of the Internet and as such it protects free speech. Imagine an Internet that's stratified like television channels.

Pay $9.99 for basic access to favorites like Google, Amazon, CNN, Microsoft, etc. Pay an additional $9.99 for the social news/media sites you love, like Digg, Slashdot, Engadget, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, etc. Pay an additional $9.99 to have access to over 100 special-interest sites like ESPN, Huffington Post, Deviant Art, etc. Pay an additional $9.99 to send e-mail, access FTPs, VPNs, etc. Pay an additional $19.99 for access to high bandwidth sites like Hulu, Vimeo, YouTube, etc.

Now let's say you want to start a new web-based company. But, because you are not an incumbent, cable providers decide that there's little value in including you in their stratified Internet. Or, if you are included it would only be in the "top" packages that contain the "rest of the Internet." Of course you could pay a fee, which is the present model with TV, but you're just starting up! How does this represent a scenario in which competition is fair or in which speech is free? The Internet goes from being a bastion of free speech to having a high startup cost and as a result is relegated to being the playground of corporate interests.

Let's say that your cable provider feels that a certain site generates too much traffic, like YouTube. They could punitively throttle your access to YouTube, or simply restrict it wholesale unless you want to pay more. This could apply to any site or even any form of web traffic for any conceivable reason. Maybe they don't like your politics or your race or whatever.

How does protecting equality by denying corporations the right to practice this sort of hypothetical behavior undermine free speech in any definition of the concept?

The answer is that it doesn't. Insofar as the entire technical community of the planet Earth is concerned, the FCC is taking exactly the right approach with Net Neutrality. The only people who disagree are those who stand to profit otherwise.

Dan
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