Opponents of net neutrality recently showed how ugly it will be if they win. The Fox network blocked Cablevision Internet subscribers from viewing Fox content on the web. Internet freedom, it seems, is for corporations, not individuals.
The dispute Fox network was arguing with Cablevision over how much Cablevision would pay for Fox content on its cable TV channels. Fox blocked Cablevision's access to its TV shows first. OK.
Then Fox blocked Cablevision users from viewing Fox shows on Hulu.com. Fox must believe that the Internet is nothing more than a packet-switched cable network.
Corporate shills hailed Fox's move as a blow for corporate freedom. “Why shouldn't a content creator be able to limit access to content they've published on the web?” they asked.
Because it's a really bad idea? If you don't want to put it on the web, don't put it on the web. Problem solved.
The monopoly problem But Fox wants to put their content on the web. And they want to control which ISPs get access to it. And that's going too far.
Large corporations have always fought for monopolies. Monopolies mean predictable, reliable profits and less turmoil for the company.
But Americans realized over 100 years ago that while companies may like monopolies they can be bad for the country. One problem: monopolies use their power to crush competitors and gain monopolies in other markets.
Monopolies in the United States are not illegal. However, when Microsoft used its desktop monopoly to crush Netscape's browser - which led to years of Internet Explorer stagnation - that was illegal.
Not the 1st time Back in the 1920s movie studios sought to control all movie distribution. The major studios bought virtually all of the movie theaters in the US, crushing independent theater operators.
The problem: studios no longer had to compete for theater owner's attention. They could produce anything and still get the dollars of unwitting movie goers.
It took 20 years, but the Supreme Court ruled that the studios had to give up theater ownership. Further, rules were established to give theater owners some rights in the movie booking process.
The Storage Bits take Like the movie studios in the 1920s major media companies would love to be able to control all distribution of their products at terms most favorable to them. This is understandable. But that doesn't make it right.
We all agree that media companies should compete for our attention. But they shouldn't use our attention to force us to use their preferred Internet provider.
Internet service providers should compete on the basis of the quality and speed of the service, not access to sites. Content producers are free to charge for access, but they shouldn't block your ISP to favor other ISPs.
If they can block certain sites on a whim, what is to stop them from blocking access to your cloud storage provider? Or your photo site?
Pseudo-libertarians ignore corporate threats to our liberties. They decry “government control" as if setting rules for corporate conduct is "control." Does the referee "control" a football game?
“We the people” are the government. If we don't like what our representatives are doing we can vote them out. When did you ever vote out a corporate president?
Comments welcome, of course. Speaking of voting, tomorrow is election day in United States. If you don't vote you are no better than the poor schlub in Burma who can't vote. Put down your smartphone or notebook and VOTE! And tell your friends to vote too.