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The Net Neutrality Debate

Since 1990’s,internet traffic has increased a lot due to arrival of picture and mp3 based sites.Also,video streaming and peer to peer file sharing has become more common since 2003.Youtube and other free video content sites started using a good amount of bandwidth,to which ISP’s demanded to charge them for making their content available over the provider’s network.

Net Neutrality can be simply called as ’Internet equality’, ‘Net Equality’ or ‘Internet Neutrality’. In common parlance, it is the principle that all data on net, websites and services should be equally treated by Internet Service Providers as well as government, without any kind of discrimination on the basis of user, website, content, application or communication mode. It is the idea that ISPs should not enter into any paid agreements with organizations like Netfix in order to mode their content faster than others.

Net neutrality has always been a topic of debate as it can be both positive and negative.For some big companies it is highly desirable for reasons like guaranteeing quality of service,while for others it is equally harmful.

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Arguments in favor of net neutrality

Along with consumer advocates and human rights organization, many internet application companies like Yahoo,Amazon,eBay,Vonage etc support net neutrality regulation.Google published a statement in 2008,opposing market power of broadband providers to control access to content and other applications. They further compared the situation to that of the telecommunication market, where companies are not allowed to control who their customers call or what those customers are allowed to say.

The Sites which favor net neutrality propose to have an equal platform for every content on the Internet, in short they demand ’Open Internet.Net neutrality is a highly important component for open internet. The idea of an open internet reflects that anyone can access any resource on the internet, This predominantly include open standards, transparency,lack of internet censorship and low barriers to entry.The proposal to open and decentralized Internet will make every Internet app-site equal and hence would affect the popularity of big sites which were earlier famous for some unique feature like the availability of high speed streaming videos. At the same time ,Open Internet would raise the working level of few small sites.Obviously,the internet giants will oppose net neutrality while the smaller sites will favor this concept.

To operate the internet on net neutrality,supporters of net neutrality want cable companies to act as common carriers. This means that cable companies would be required to allow Internet service providers free access to cable lines, like the model used for dial up Internet. They also intend to make sure that the cable companies cannot screen,disrupt or filter Internet content without a court order. This in turn would allow FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to enforce rules of net neutrality effectively.

Furthermore, Net neutrality advocates argue that allowing cable and telecommunication to act as gatekeepers i.e. being able to control speed of loading of websites, as well as letting them to demand a toll on quality of service would create an exploitative business model and would also slow down innovation in online services. Further, they also argue that by charging certain sites,ISP’s may be able to block those who are unable to pay. Also, the advocates assert that every content on the Internet must be treated same and must move at the same speeds.

Presently,the order is meant to set a precedent that all ISP’s as well as communication companies cannot impede customers from using their networks the way they desire unless there is a valid logic. In addition, there are various laws and provisions that prohibit anti-competitive blocking and controlling of internet services.

According to Lawrence Lessig, net neutrality ensures that the Internet remains a free and open technology, promoting independent communication. Monopolization of the Internet would suppress the diversity of independent news sources and the generation of new and innovative web content. Therefore, in order to promote innovation in web content and other online services, it is necessary to ensure net neutrality by limiting control of ISPs and network owners.

Arguments against Net Neutrality

Those who oppose net neutrality includes owners of cable and telephony companies, hardware companies as well as some renowned Internet engineers. They argue that interference of government in the operations of ISPs would limit investment from the private sector and could throttle innovation and technological advancement.

Many Internet giants who oppose Net neutrality do not completely deny the idea of Net Neutrality, but propose to have a regulated internet platform. They believe that rule and regulations are necessary for The Internet,else bandwidth might be parceled out by Internet providers, thereby creating a bifurcated Internet which will only be beneficial for wealthier ones while others will have slow and degraded connections. Without adequate regulation,Internet providers will sell out a variety of bandwidth to giant sites.

Some sites like Youtube, who streams much data in three months as the world’s radio,cable and broadcast television did in one year.These sites are risked by Net neutrality. In addition to this,Net neutrality would prevent broadband nature from being built, which would limit available bandwidth and thus endanger Innovation. Also,access to certain protocols or lower levels of access would make net usage more neutral,with respect to the needs of those individualsand corporations specifically seeking differentiated tiers of service.

From the consumer’s perspective, an open and free internet has become the necessary platform for free communications, speech and commerce. It is the utmost important technology and therefore its control should not given be in the hands of any corporations. To protect consumers and online innovators, enforcement of Open Internet rules is essential. Every individual must have freedom to communicate without any discrimination on networks. Newt Neutrality is important for businesses also in advertising their product, creating a market, distribution and connecting with consumers. It is important to establish policies that protect consumers from network traffic discrimination.

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