There are many things that we take for granted in the free states of America. Many of us feel rather secure in our domestic land that rarely sees outright war. Sure, we know we need to pay our taxes and it’s possible that someone we know gets violated and robbed but in general, we assume that our physical security is safe and that we’ll see this safety week after week.
We take for granted the freedom we have to discuss whatever we want with friends. Now with publishing platforms like Facebook and Twitter, it’s possible for everyone in the world to all be ‘our friends’. We have ideas, we like to discuss them, see what exciting new discoveries we can make and celebrate those excursions.
We’ve found that open source and cloud computing have enabled increasingly smaller, insightful players to begin to disrupt yesterdays disrupters. Those who excel in today’s virtual world, do so because they stand on the shoulders of giants. Without the contributions of developers to projects such as Apache, MySQL, Java, Python, Ruby, and Linux itself, amongst countless others, the startup space would be far more constrained.
Yesterday, President Obama took the obvious step of recommending to the FCC that the lifeblood of this economic revolution be preserved. Networked computing is nothing without the connectivity that enables the communications we take for granted. That ability to freely communicate with each other is the lifeblood of invention and innovation.
Just as we would never stand for pen and pencil manufactures requiring us to abide by their rules and prejudices, we must not allow those who have been entrusted with ensuring our communications reach their intended recipients to betray us. These via de facto monopolies and oligopolies often refer to their networks as exclusive private property, extruded by shear will alone from thin air. However, the reality is just like all the other utilities, much of networks are due to concessions of private land ownership, municipal subsidies and the ongoing use of commons such as the airwaves.
Today’s common network is no longer the street corner. Today’s access to gainful employment is no longer through the newspaper and automobile. Given the rapid obsolescence of traditional media & communication tools and given our increasing dependence on 1’s and 0’s, insuring that speech remains free on the Internet is more critical now than ever. This Network Neutrality is the principle that the trustees of our communications must treat each of us as equals.
Without Network Neutrality and the recognition that Internet providers are already acting as utility holders, these providers continue to demonstrate that they will abuse their privileged position to extract additional rent from their hostage customers and competitors. Just look at the Netflix fiasco. Customers most often have no real options in choosing a new provider to connect with their friends and engage in the means of gainful employment. Without pragmatic regulation of the monopoly services that we depend on, we and our economy are held hostage by the gatekeepers that we subsidized and enabled to gain their position.
If you’re interested in supporting efforts to ensure an Internet with free speech, check out Freepress’s saveTheInternet.com for more details.