Brendan O'Connell Netrality Toulmin Essay 2 1/28/08 The issue of net neutrality is not often debated outside of forums on the

internet and during internet service provider meetings. There are few definitions of network neutrality and they are all very different. The general meaning is “the principle that Internet users should be in control of what content they view and what applications they use on the Internet”(google.com). Most people in the world are pro-net neutrality, but the government and some internet service providers, like Comcast, have tried to put restrictions on its users. In what the Associated Press called “the most drastic example yet of data discrimination.” Comcast started using a service called Sandvine in May 2006. Used to restrict the amount of data bittorrent users could send and receive, Sandvine was supposed to be a secret. The main reason people want some form of restriction on the internet is because of bittorrent; a program that uses peer to peer, or P2P, transfers to send large files. In its basic state bittorrent is not illegal, but it has become a way for media pirates to easily transfer movies, music and video games. If the government passes laws to create a web police, the users that pay for the ability to use the internet will loose all the freedom that has existed for the past nineteen years(Berners-Lee, A Proposal). To defend the neutrality of the internet has become somewhat of a cliché on the world wide web, yet it is still an important fight that needs to end. Either the internet is closely guarded and scanned everyday by a section of the government or people have the right to upload whatever they want. The internet is supposed to be an open place where anyone can feel comfortable. To give government the ability to restrict is is giving them the ability to take freedom from America. This is more than a nerd battle about who controls what, this is a case of civil liberty and maintaining the right to free speech. “The neutral communications medium is essential to our society. It is the basis of a fair competitive market economy. It is the basis of democracy.”(Berners-Lee, Neutrality of the Net) The right to free speech has been fought over in almost every medium, whether it be written word, theater, forum, music, or lyrics, the fact that Americans have the right to say what they want is something that

too many people take for granted. So why does this not apply to the internet? When taken into account what the internet has done for economy, democracy and important news transportation, why would anybody want to limit this? It's an act of greed that can be seen all over the world. The large cable companies like AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner, and Comcast want to have the ability to to decide what sites go fast or slow and what sites don't load at all. Allowing the corporate companies to determine what sites get seen leaves the smaller companies stranded in the ocean of the internet with little possibility that it will ever be noticed. The entire world has walked into a giant corrupt game of monopoly where the people that own Boardwalk keep making money while the little guy on Baltic never has a chance. People like Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, intended for the internet to be a non-discriminatory place where people and companies alike could say what they wanted and needed to say. There are bad sides to the internet also. Rampant pornography, illegal pirating, addictive behavior and identity theft. These are all things that the government has been able to control in the past, so what does putting it on a screen change? Apparently it means a lot because in 2006 nearly $175 million dollars were spent on the “Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act of 2006”, or the COPE act. This incorporated a major change to the Telecommunications Act, yet the phone and cable companies were unable to get the legislation passed. This shows, without a doubt, that the users of the internet want a free place where they can say what they feel and post what they want. Without net neutrality, the expected outcomes are less innovation, decrease in competition, and very limited access to information. The cable and phone companies are trying to create a monopoly on creativity and want to restrict the publics access to be able to publish anything. “As a universal medium, of course, it is important that the web itself doesn't try to decide what is publishable.”(Berners-Lee, Blogging is Great) An interesting thing to point out is that many of these people attempting to pass these laws and legislation seem to know next to nothing about what the internet holds. “The Internet is not something

that you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's a series of tubes.”(Stevens, Your own Personal Internet) The fact that that was said by Senator Ted Stevens makes many pro-net neutrality people say that the people fighting them are old and have no idea what is happening with modern technology. It can be said that he was having an “off day” but why are people fighting something that they seem to barely understand? Stevens is the chair of the committee appointed with regulating the internet. If the opposing side actually came up with an intelligent counter-argument to net neutrality, the advocates would probably listen and maybe give them some respect. Unfortunately the side that wants to control everything on the internet has given them more fuel for the fire. With the billions of people that use the internet every day, it is hard to imagine that porn and pirating will be enough to back up the senators trying to pass more legislature. The strongest blow against the controllers came in January of 2008 when the FCC announced an investigation into Comcast using data discrimination. With a potential fine of $195,000 per customer affected, they are faced with a very large problem and a significant loss. Only for the time being can the FCC stop providers from controlling the internet, and if legislation is changed we can look at slower internet speeds and less information. “The Internet was designed with no gatekeepers over new content or services. A lightweight but enforceable neutrality rule is needed to ensure that the Internet continues to thrive."(Davidson, Vint Cerf) When the co-creator of the Internet Protocol, Vint Cerf, says that a neutrality law is needed it is probably a good idea. If the creators of the internet wanted it to be controlled, they would have mad a deal with big companies. The internet that is seen today was put in place by the army and was released to the public with no restrictions, but little space. The internet has grown into a new and easy way to transport and view information. The largest complaint that the telecommunications companies have is that net neutrality regulations would hinder the expansion and improvement to access the internet for their customers. The internet has progressed from something that used to transfer data at bytes per second, whereas now there is the ability to transfer data at gigabytes(one billion bytes) per second. So how can they argue

that it will prevent advancements in speed and quality when the internet has had no regulation since it's inception and it is much faster and better built now? According to the big companies, net neutrality is a “new regulation, but that is wrong; advocates for network neutrality want to keep the internet the way that it has been for the past nineteen years.(Scott, Network Neutrality: Fact vs. Fiction) Congress needs to protect net neutrality, but with the pressure that is put on them it will be difficult to make it an easy win. But the internet will not die easily. If this fight is won by the people it only assures that people will still be able to right what they want. It still allows pirates to trade movies and music, but the MPAA and RIAA are in control of that. Porn still remains in its paper form and has not been restricted for a while. For the telecommunications companies to say that speed and improvement are their motives for pushing for the COPE act and other limiting acts sounds like they aren't telling the whole truth. Right now they have no good evidence that net neutrality regulations will effect the internet at all. Taxing users for faster connections is cruel to the customer and should never be done. But something can be done, calling congress members and signing petitions are just two ways that anyone can help. The internet is meant to be a open place where everyone has a place they can go. To allow any government or company the ability to block access means that U.S citizens have lost another freedom.

Works Cited
<http://www.google.com/help/netneutrality.html> Berners-Lee, Tim. "Information Management: A Proposal." W3. 1989. 5 Feb 2008 <http://www.w3.org/History/1989/proposal.html> Berners-Lee, Tim. "Neutrality of the Net." Breadcrumbs. 2006. MIT. 5 Feb 2008 <http://dig.csail.mit.edu/breadcrumbs/node/132> Berners-Lee, Tim. "Blogging is Great." Breadcrumbs. 2006. MIT. 5 Feb 2008 <http://dig.csail.mit.edu/breadcrumbs/node/170 > Stevens, Ted. "Your Own Personal Internet." Wired. 2006. Wired. 5 Feb 2008 <http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2006/06/your_own_person.html >. Davidson, Alan. " Vint Cerf speaks out on net neutrality ." Google Blogs. 2005. Google. 5 Feb 2008 <http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2005/11/vint-cerf-speaks-out-on-net-neutrality.html>. Scott, Ben. Mark Cooper, Jeannine Kenney. "Why Consumers Demand Internet Freedom; Network Neutrality: Fact vs. Fiction." Freepress 1(2006): 23.