Net Neutrality is a concept that entered the popular consciousness recently especially with the recent U.S. Congressional hearings about legislation relating to internet regulation. The wiki entry for Net Neutrality:
Network neutrality (equivalently net neutrality, Internet neutrality) is a principle proposed for residential broadband networks and potentially for all networks. A neutral broadband network is one that is free of restrictions on content, sites, or platforms, on the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and on the modes of communication allowed, as well as one where communication is not unreasonably degraded by other communication streams.
The interesting angle to this debate is how the internet is being treated as an avenue for not just economic behaviour but moral behaviour as well. During the congressional hearing on net neutrality, Congressman Ron Paul had very interesting insights to share about the moral hazard of stepping into internet regulation:
In a conference about individual rights conducted by the Ayn Rand Center, Dr. Yaron Brook shares his own thoughts on the topic which parallel Ron Paul’s:
Blogger apathetic lemming also has some interesting research and views on the subject here which you should check out for a more wholistic appreciation of the subject.
I’m not urging you to call your representatives and support this bill, or saying that you should tell them to block it. I haven’t made up my own mind about this.
But I’m dubious about this well-intentioned effort to save us from our Internet Service Providers.
For starters, one of the biggest proponents of the “Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008” is Google. I like Google, as a search engine, and I’ve heard that they provide excellent customer service.
However, Google’s record on freedom of speech and censorship isn’t all that unblemished. Remember Google’s accommodation of the Chinese leaders’ requirements, back in 2006?
The whole question regarding Net Neutrality is essentially a question of government interference on private individual rights, and especially how government intervention can influence more than just one aspect of an individual’s rights. The quality of the internet has thus far depended on the current freedom its users enjoy.