EDITORIAL: Internet customers should have neutrality from their providers [Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Texas :: ]
(Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (TX) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 23--The Internet provides a wealth of information for all Americans who use it. And it should be presented in a manner commonly called net neutrality. That means the presentation of material to Internet users should be neutral from all content companies.
Net neutrality allows for information on the internet to be uncensored and unfettered from corporate or government interference. Net neutrality protects freedom of speech.
If the net neutrality is replaced -- as Tom Wheeler, chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, wants -- it could theoretically impose unfair disbursement of Internet services by broadband providers. The FCC needs to keep the Internet neutral.
If net neutrality goes away, start-up companies on the Web and people looking up certain ideas or sites could be discriminated against. Telecommunications companies would have total control of the flow of broadband capabilities to their customers.
This is already a hot-button issue with many Americans. More than 1 million open-Internet defenders had signed a petition to preserve net neutrality on the FCC's website by Friday. The original deadline of July 15 had to be extended to July 18 because so many people were on the site signing the petition the site crashed.
One of the problems if the FCC changes net neutrality is companies that provide Internet services could create different "lanes" based on how much the consumer is willing to pay, some with faster Internet speeds and some with slower.
Internet companies in America are already too slow. The U.S. ranks eighth in the world -- which puts us behind Latvia --in Internet speed, according to Forbes, an American business magazine.
Another issue is a little more sinister. These companies can theoretically get away with a lot of infringements of personal and developmental rights, since there are only a handful of major Internet providers.
Starting up a broadband company is extremely costly. And most of them don't have major competition in the same markets.
For example, the telecommunications company can charge customers extra to go to certain sites using a pay wall.
This could discourage companies starting up, and the telecommunications company could benefit from having their customer watch entertainment from their own sites and cable offerings.
Net neutrality would help protect against Internet providers controlling what users are able to obtain and see. It would protect the spread of information and freedom of speech on the Internet.
Internet providers currently have some regulation from the FCC, but the U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled the broadband companies can block or slow down websites.
It would be possible for companies to block information they don't want users to see. It's unAmerican to alter freedom of speech, and has been done before, such as a 2007 Pearl Jam concert where a broadband provider censored lyrics.
Furthermore, the FCC should not be stifling creativity. Wheeler, a former lobbyist for telecommunication companies, should back off the unpopular policy of putting a damper on the Internet's well of information.
-- Our position: If the Federal Communications wants Internet neutrality, it should not allow opportunities for content providers to make arrangements with broadband companies for preferential treatment. The broadband providers could allow content companies to access their fastest lanes.
-- Why you should care: The provision of Internet services is a big business and should be made on a level playing field. Otherwise, it could inhibit the start-up and development of content companies. Fair competition is one of the reasons for the widespread success of American business in history, and it should apply to the Internet today.
-- For more information: Log on to our website, www.lubbockonline.com, and enter the words "net neutrality" in the search box.
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Visit the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Lubbock, Texas) at www.lubbockonline.com
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