Net Neutrality (Part I): Of the past and future in Net Neutrality
Net Neutrality is a taken-for-granted thing in the internet that we live in. The concept of free, open and equal internet as it exists today may be under some threat if the advances of giants such as Google and Verizon are to be believed. In some sense, Google is finally beginning to violate its “Do no Evil” corporate policy for commercial and financial purposes.
Essentially Net neutrality refers to the network agnostic behavior towards internet traffic, content, platforms, websites and more. There has been a section of companies that have wanted to differentiate internet services such that some of the free behavior is tweaked in favor of their benefits. For instance, these Telcos/ISPs want the right for companies to pay a premium to have their content delivered faster than rival content, or to establish new layer of faster internet on which to serve paying, premium services. That would leave non-commercial sites on a poorer, slower web where they would find it harder to attract readers – changing the democratic nature of the internet. It would also mean poorer users, or those in the developing world, would find it harder to access the “full” internet experience. That in principal is violtaion of net neutrality.
Companies such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast have been planning to introduce tiered, prioritized and premium services. This in principal is against the Democratic DNA of the internet and has been thumbed down by several high profile Tech gurus including Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of the Internet.
Berners-Lee has said: “Control of information is hugely powerful. In the US, the threat is that companies can control what I access for commercial reasons. In China, companies could control what users access for political reasons. Freedom of connection with any application to any party is the fundamental social basis of the internet.”
The debate around net Neutrality is not new and has intermittently been popping in and around. In the US, coverage has centered around the Federal Communications Commission which upheld a complaint against ComCast for illegally restricting paying web users from using file-sharing services. In the UK, “traffic shaping” can similarly be seen as a precursor to wider tiers of internet use with ISPs commonly demoting and even blocking P2P traffic, for example. ISPs in the UK have also indicated they are concerned about services that put pressure on their networks like the BBC’s video traffic, which may lead to them charging.