Net Neutrality: You own the Internet - make sure it becomes Law

For the first time in the world, there's a service that has a unique platform that allows all free people to interact, demonstrate, express and bind together to resolve issues. The internet is the vehicle which will drive change, innovation and create an entirely new political landscape that does not have limitations.
Written by Doug Hanchard, Contributor

Last week I wrote about how Net Neutrality could be blown to pieces in satire and followed up with another piece suggesting that the Internet is not free from government monopolies and corporate service providers. An advocate of an open system that has choice and no boundaries barring access needs some ammunition to fight back with. It has plenty if used appropriately.

For the first time in the world, there's a service that has a unique platform, allowing all free people to interact, demonstrate, express and bind together to resolve issues. The internet is the vehicle which has and will continue to drive change, innovation, and create an entirely new political landscape that does not have limitations. Could turn out to be a bad or good thing. But internet users will be decision makers on this point, not corporations.

Nobody should be in control and prevent it from occurring. How?

The general consensus is to write it into Law.It starts with one country and expands from there. Language is eliminated as a barrier with translation technology. Other applications and techniques are creating a political and commercial environment which can accommodate everybody's need to be heard, as groups, lobbyists and individuals. The Laws and regulations should not be vague or complex, which is a huge paradox with respect to the internet. It is possible to attain without infringement of balance required. Regulations exist to prevent a monopoly. Existing rules require revisions. Some may require elimination or very specific application to Internet services and not other mediums such as traditional TV or radio broadcasting. Choice can coexist with old and new media and can effectively compete.


History tells us society has learned that to control is to lead, often with disastrous results. Not always, but sufficient evidence indicates when too much power is held by a small group. it can lead a population down the wrong path. The same is true in corporate boardrooms. Too many Directors on publicly traded companies do not take their fiduciary roles seriously. The Securities and Exchange regulations are not preventing fraud from occurring.

That trend is changing in some places in the world. Not enough, say Net Neutrality advocates. Service providers believe regulations are the mechanism to prevent advances in applications and technology. Net Neutrality wants disclosure of what a customer is getting when they buy internet access. It was regulations stipulating that no one organization or association of providers should offer specific service terms without describing traffic management elements in its offerings. The regulations would require that any provider of internet access must be required to offer internet access without any restrictions as an option.

Society does have the right to restrict content if it violates a sovereign nation's Laws. An example is advocating or inciting racism or other crimes against humanity. Courts should be allowed to still embargo news or information to protect a individual's rights such as privacy if codified into Law of the nation.If Net Neutrality groups argue these issues, expect significant opposition and the potential for an impasse that may not achieve the goal of complete open access as many suggest is necessary. It should be stressed by Net Neutrality groups that any Internet regulations or Laws shall not supersede or over ride a country's Constitution.

Evolution and the press

The internet has the power to change that. Information and knowledge transfer has never seen such short time lines from publication to reaction. The press sometimes is just as guilty as the big corporations of not getting sufficient points of views out to the public. The internet is changing that landscape and perception. No longer is information delivered in a day or a weekend edition. It's now minutes and seconds. It's a 7/24 news cycle that people are actually able to keep up with. News organizations are still in a steep learning curve and often contain centralized reporting, often with the very negative results. Changes are on the way with a dynamic new press leading the way. These organizations should not be enabled to be the exclusive provider of news content or specific delivery of media. The right to a free press is everyone's right.

Availability and visibility

Access is everything and everyone. Any petition or argument against such truth is fraught with reaction, of control and police action. The era of Big Brother is over. No government, corporation or any one single group should enforce their definition of right without due process. No group or individual should be denied the right to access or publish what they want within the legal frame work that exists today. It should not be monitored or prevented unless it is unlawful by infringing on an individual's rights or is defamatory without merit.

Law is not containment of expression

Neutrality is open to interpretation. Clarification with the ability to enforce must be facilitated by the creation of regulation into Law, upon which advocates will have the choice to litigate at their choosing. The rules must be open to discussion and fair. Such language is easily manipulated if the dialogue between opposing groups is not debated in sufficient depth and debate. Corporations can operate and be governed in fairness and should be heard. Their argument: It is an infrastructure that they built. The counterpoint: the R&D, construction and initial success were paid for by researchers at universities, subscribers and governments who initially sponsored its childhood. No one single entity can claim that it's their network to do with as it sees fit. There are international components that can never be controlled from a single source or nation.The Law of the land should express to the world that it does not discriminate or censor services and applications by the Laws of its own people. Net Neutrality would be a clear signal that government has invested in policy, translated into Law.

Balance of Power

Mediums of information which are already governed by Laws shall be adhered to, and by those that wish to be a competitor. Net Neutrality advocates have to accommodate and come to an understanding, that to side swipe those organizations and entities that have played by the rules, must be given due process of defense and equality for doing so. Any new entrant into a space that is enforceable under existing rules shall also be required to comply to the incumbent's existing area of regulation. A television broadcasting company has to comply with extensive regulatory requirements. No new entrant into that space shall be treated differently. The precedence of fair competition within that segment must be considered or the balance of power, control and solutions could create erosion instead of investment and replace one dominant player for another, resulting in continued imbalance. Equal rights and protection must be given to the other platforms of access such as telecommunications, radio, media and commerce. Net Neutrality does not influence who decides to compete, only to ensure that when competing that Laws ensure they are fair. If bureaucracy is the bottleneck, then fix the source, not the Law.

The internet is a public and civil commercial competition

Net Neutrality will create higher costs initially for some, to ensure its success. You may pay more for internet access if you want to subscribe to services that are not offered by the provider, should you wish to do so, but the provider shall not bar such access of any materials legal within the country. The contract and service agreement between you and your internet provider will have new language and very clear terms as to what you are paying for. You will have choice and will not be treated as a lower class of internet user. Privacy of information that exists in Law today must be adhered to and expanded to ensure that Internet services, applications are appropriately capable of being adjudicated in a Court of Law.

The network will grow

Capacity is not a function of Net Neutrality. The infrastructure is a supply and demand environment that will have its own outcomes and checks and balances. Competition is the equalizer for most settings but clearly not all. Rural communities must be supported to ensure the system does not shut them out to the dynamic and growing mediums the internet is developing. Where a monopoly exists and no private entity is willing or capable of such investment, an alternative should be found that accommodates a consortium of competitors and shares the cost of the implementation of competition. The network is not a free for all where anarchy can reign supreme. It will have equality of access, not of technology barriers that are available or used. Any application that is operable via the internet should be allowed to exist on the network so long as it is lawful to do so. Net Neutrality groups will have to agree that network resources are a finite resource for a given capital expenditure. Congestion does and will occur. Net Neutrality should endorse specifications to be published and adhered to, much like a government requires fuel economy performance numbers to be published to a set standard. The standards and specifications would identify different performance levels for various types of protocols and applications in a given location and region within its control. Providers would be required to publish points of entry into and out of the country and at what capacity is has to deliver that resource to you as a consumer. The governance of the parameters must equal and free of restriction by any one user group over another.

The world has a voice

International gateways accessing the internet must never be managed, operated or controlled by any one single group of government, corporation or group. They must be open to inspection, audit and verification by third parties. The Laws of jurisdictions outside its domain shall never infringe on another country's right to sovereignty. Net Neutrality advocates may consider having nations agree to a global body of oversight for the basic essentials of Neutrality while specific rules governing individuals rights to due process and compliance remain within the domestic domain of the citizen.

Net Neutrality can work. Providers of the Internet Network have only one fear: That they may not be able to win this debate on Net Neutrality. They may own (for now) the Internet – but you make it function.

Additional resources:

FCC releases 'Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan'

FCC, Comcast, others testify before Congress: NBC Universal-Comcast merger

Net Neutrality: Why the Internet will never be free. For anything. So get used to it

AT&T to FCC: Open to Net Neutrality ideas - with conditions

Net Neutrality: You own the Internet - make sure it becomes Law

Internet: A threat to government or the other way around?

Electronic Frontier Foundation links net neutrality to copyright

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