I wrote some random thoughts about net neutrality last week, and now my commentary for the National Catholic Register is online. Here’s how it begins:
Net neutrality is the foundation of a free and open Internet, yet implementing it correctly and legally has been a serious challenge.
The idea of net neutrality is simple: An Internet service provider (ISP) has to treat all data equally, neither boosting the performance of some streams nor degrading the speed of others. They can’t create tiers of service in which some sites perform better than others, nor can they block non-criminal sites or discriminate against specific hardware or applications.
Let’s imagine a worst-case scenario: Microsoft buys Comcast. They slow or even block access to Google in order to encourage customers to use Bing. They degrade their users’ experience of Netflix in order to boost their own video-on-demand service. Finally, they begin filtering sites that criticize Microsoft or Comcast in any way.
We are not there yet. We are not even really on our way there. We are, however, feeling some early rumblings about what the Internet could be like without commonsense protections in place, and we need to start looking to a future in which the open Internet is protected.