Columns / Discourse / November 12, 2014

Free the Internet: protect our rights

I like a few things, one of them being my ability to surf the net unimpeded. When I use the Internet I should have the choice to either watch “House of Cards” or read some quality XKCD without any outside influences. Net Neutrality is exactly this, and does precisely that: It keeps the Internet neutral.

No website or a single packet of information should receive special treatment that makes it any easier or harder to access. This means ISP providers cannot throttle speeds when certain websites (like Netflix) are visited nor can they give certain websites preferential search treatments in exchange for sums of money. Unfortunately, these exact events have been known to happen. For example, Comcast hindered users’ access to Netflix-hosted movies only to open the dam of users after Netflix paid a fee.

In addition, advertisements should not be littering our access around the Internet. Already observed on YouTube, and ostracized by Internet users around the world, advertisements are a sure way to irk users and drive them away. Just look at television. Imagine having to sit through pages and pages of ads every time you clicked a link on a frequented web page because multinational corporations such as Coke, McDonalds and Apple had paid the Internet provider to do so. That is not Internet freedom.

The Internet is merely the information world with streets made of electrons. Would it be acceptable if certain streets were closed off and detours set up, directing Walmart shoppers to Target because Target paid road makers? By creating a blockade, the road company would inevitably be sending more consumers to Target due to the extra time and effort needed to reach Walmart. This is what could happen with the Internet if net neutrality is not protected.

The President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, shares the thoughts and rights of the common Internet user and has himself taken the stance on the utility of the Internet in today’s world.

In his address to Internet users he urged “the Federal Communications Commission to protect net neutrality.” He is not alone, and is even part of the majority as major Internet entities such as Reddit, Wikipedia and The Oatmeal, to name a few, have voiced their support towards keeping the Internet open and free.

The right to an easily accessible Internet, where, ideally, information runs freely, is exactly what stemmed the Internet. We had it; that’s how the Internet was when it was first formed in college dormitories in the form of Intranet late last century. Like electricity and water, the Internet is now a utility as individuals, businesses, airports and space stations all rely on it.

The Internet cannot be tampered with, which is why Internet providers should merely act upon their titles and provide said Internet. It is us, the people, who shall choose how to wield the Internet, for that is the right of every user of the World Wide Web.

Amal Dua

Tags:  consumers freedom of information Internet Net Neutraility netflix obama

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