The most fundamental principles of the World Wide Web are rooted in its openness. It was built on a foundation of mutual distribution of information, on a global scale. The credit for inventing the World Wide Web falls to Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee. Today Lee is Director of the W3C and Professor at MIT. During an interview with Jon Stokes of ARS Technica, Lee was quoted as saying:
When I invented the Web, I didn't have to ask anyone's permission. Now, hundreds of millions of people are using it freely. I am worried that this is going end in the USA.
This single but yet profoundly powerful statement is what proponents of Net Neutrality are arguing. From, the inception of the World Wide Web -- it has been nothing less than a platform to freely broadcast information. Today the opponents of Net Neutrality wish to irrevocably change the Web's core principles. They stand up on their soapboxes and cry foul. Essentially, opponents claim that consumers are bandwidth hogs. Companies, such as Comcast and AT&T, warn if we continue "hogging" bandwidth they will be forced to not only throttle the connection but meter access to the Internet.
Lee explains that Net Neutrality is simply being incorrectly defined by opponents and their surrogates. Broadband providers would have you believe that we want free access to the Web. That is simply not true but this is the campaign that opponents are selling to Congress. What the argument for Net Neutrality stands for is rather simple -- an open Internet. This is where access to information is not restricted by governments or corporations.
Yes, regulation to keep the Internet open is regulation. And mostly, the Internet thrives on lack of regulation. But some basic values have to be preserved.
The democratization of the Web demands that Internet content be free from restrictions -- which include throttling and Internet metering. Unfortunately, we are beginning to see how broadband providers, such as Comcast and AT&T are beginning to control access to Internet content. There needs to be regulations and a clear distinction between Internet content and Internet access. Content is the commodity which Net Neutrality is defending; not the pay wall.
The Web has evolved from this motionless monologue of information to a dynamic conversation -- which is peppered with text, audio, still images, video footage and interactivity. Furthermore, its ubiquity has lead to the democratization of information which has liberated and educated tens of millions. Why would we then allow any government or corporation to control access to that content?