The Wall Street Journal has an article up today The Webâ€™s Worst New Idea that totally misses the mark on the issue of Net Neutrality.
They say that the current fight for Net Neutrality is a bad idea basically because making laws to preserve neutral data flow by the internet providers would open the door to lawsuits. They claim the government shouldnâ€™t â€œregulate what isnâ€™t broken.â€
The one sentence that sums up their apparent complete failure to grasp the reality of this issue is this:
Given the impulse on the left to regulate anything that moves, perhaps the real surprise here is that it’s taken this long for someone to seriously suggest the Net will wither in the absence of a federal regulatory apparatus.
They seem to think those supporting Net Neutrality are only on the left side of the political spectrum. Um, read my profile. Iâ€™m sure not in the MoveOn.org crowd. Although I pretty much agree with them on this one issue.
But, hey, my own political credentials arenâ€™t all that substantial (which is A-OK with me). Regardless, the WSJ should take a look at the Charter Members on the SaveTheInternet.com site. Theyâ€™d see that the fourth one on the list is Gun Owners of America.
Thatâ€™s not exactly the type of organization characterized by the WSJ as supporting this issue. Check out what their Executive Director wrote to Congress about the issue. The question is will us little guys be able to make our voices heard in the future?
The other flaw in the WSJ reasoning is that they seem to think that because every thingâ€™s going well now, there is no problem. The issue is not what has happened to the internet, but what the providers say they intend to do with it.
Hereâ€™s whatâ€™s at stake in simple language, so that even I can understand it:
The high speed internet providers want to be able to start charging for data flowing over their network regardless of where the content originated in addition to charging for each computer that connects to their network.
As it stands right now everyone pays based on how much data flows to the internet at the connection point. That data volume is called bandwidth. The result of the current system is that Google pays a whole lot more for their internet access than I do because they are shoving way more data through their connection than I am.
The current system is fair to everyone because as a company grows, and needs more bandwidth, it is reasonable to expect them to be able to afford to pay more for their access. Suffice it to say that Google has much deeper pockets than I do.
The change the providers want to make is hard to describe because the double charging concept is so foreign to us. Basically itâ€™s without precedent. But Iâ€™m going to try.
It would be like setting up a toll interstate highway system. As it stands now, everyone getting on that highway system would have to pay a toll to each state where you get on the highway. How much you currently pay determines whether you can get into the fast lane, or if you have to stay in the slow lane.
Now imagine a different, additional, toll structure. Say a truck was going from Florida to Wisconsin. Under the new system (what the internet providers want to do), the truck would pay his toll to Florida like he always did and get into which ever lane he paid for. But now he would also have to pay an additional toll to Wisconsin the moment he got on the highway or he wouldnâ€™t be allowed to get off the highway there.
It might almost sound reasonable except where the analogy falls apart when you translate it to the internet. Be cause with the internet, you put your data on in one place, but it doesnâ€™t get off in one place, but many. And under the new system you would have to pay an additional toll everyplace you wanted your data to be able to get off the highway.
It would be like the trucker having to pay a toll to every one of the 50 states the moment he got on the highway or he wouldnâ€™t be able to get off wherever he didnâ€™t pay. If you are a big trucking company, like say Schneider, you could probably swing the extra new fees. But what if you were an independent trucker with only one truck?
You end up only being able to work on back water routes and you no longer can make a living because you canâ€™t compete with the big boys any longer. In the end you go out of business.
The same thing will happen to all of us little internet users if the providers have their way. Weâ€™re the ones who will be affected most, not the big guys like Google, even though they have an interest in this too. If the providers get their way, check out how it will affect you personally.
If youâ€™re involved in a non-profit this will affect you big time. Hello! Church crowd! Are you even listening?! How much more can your budget afford to pay? Or are you willing to let the providers keep people from hearing your message?
Net Neutrality is a big deal. The WSJ totally missed what the fight is about. If you do any business on the internet and donâ€™t want to be shut out, get active. Contact Congress now, before itâ€™s too late.
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[…] You can read my previous posts on the issue here and here. […]