Sunday, February 2, 2014

Net Neutrality

     Lawrence Lessig writes in "What Things Regulate" that, "We should worry about a regime that makes invisible regulation easier; we should worry about a regime that makes it easier to regulate" (99). While Lessig is specifically condemning the U.S. government's role in regulating Internet code and the lack of liberty that it ostensibly creates, one cannot create a categorical imperative that declares all regulation to be bad. In any transaction, each party involved has a particular ends to accomplish, and governmental regulation aims to balance the needs of the government, its residents, and companies.

     Recently in the news there has been discussion of "net neutrality." Network neutrality is the belief that Internet Service Providers should not privilege some content and users over others (i.e., an ISP should not limit access to a site known for illegal downloading). In effect, the Internet should be an even playing field with equitable access.

     The Federal Communications Commission passed an Open Internet Order in December 2010 that upheld the tenets of net neutrality. However, Verizon filed suit claiming that the FCC breached its regulatory power. In January 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals found in favor of Verizon, and struck down the Open Internet Order.

     For many information professionals, equitable and open access to the Internet is a 21st-century commandment. Yet, there will be always be parties willing to subjucate that aim. For companies like Verizon, it is based in monetary gain. Information professionals must work to ensure that the individual's access to information is not impinged, via legislation, lobbying work, and advocacy.

     For information on the FCC and net neutrality, read "Verizon, the FCC and What You Need to Know about Net Neutrality" by Leticia Miranda in The Nation from 6 December 2013.

    For information on Verizon winning its court battle, read "Court Strikes Down Net Neutrality Order" by Leticia Miranda in The Nation from 14 January 2014.

Lessig, Lawrence. "What Things Regulate." Code and other Laws of Cyberspace. New York: Basic  
     Books, 1999. 85-99. Print.

Miranda, Leticia. "Court Strikes Down Net Neutrality Order." The Nation. The Nation Magazine, 14
     January 2014. Web. 2 February 2014.

Miranda, Leticia. "Verizon, the FCC and What You Need to Know about Net Neutrality." The
     Nation. The Nation Magazine, 6 December 2013. Web. 2 February 2014.

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