Consider the technology path that brought this information to my attention. One of my students was listening to Marketplace, the NPR program, and heard this audio commentary on Net Neutrality, “Will the Internet Stay Fast and Cheap?” by Robert Reich. He emailed me a link to the page where I could both hear the commentary and read the text of the commentary.
I replied by sending him a link to a PDF of the actual bill before Congress, which will download if you click this post’s title, above. I had received the link in an email from the Instructional Technology Council news about technology. Their email also contained a link to an opposing argument “by Robert Litan from the Brookings Institution who argues that ISP’s should be allowed to charge companies and organizations with data heavy sites more than others to alleviate traffic congestion on the Internet, “Catching the Web in a Net of Neutrality” in the Washington Post.”
The question at stake is whether the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should be able to charge big users like Google and Amazon and CNN and Charles Schwab for that use. Those who pay the most would get priority usage–and that’s where you and I and higher education come in. As Reich notes, “the little content people will be left in the slowest and least-reliable” lanes of the Internet. It will take us longer to get our ideas out or to download our favorite sites, just when wide distribution of broadband was giving access to a wider swath of people worldwide.
One of the most influential proponents of democratic principles on the Internet is Lawrence Lessig, law professor at Stanford, and the author of The Future of Ideas. Lessig suggests that undue regulations that eat away at access and free speech will stifle the innovation that was the promise of the Internet. You can download Lessig’s new book, Free Culture, for free!
Where do you stand on Net Neutrality? Are you for regulations and tolls for priority usage? Or are you for a free space where every user has the same opportunity to get on the Internet Superhighway?