What is a true net neutrality? A true net neutrality means the internet is free from interference and censorship by any entity whether it is the government, corporations or individuals. It also means people have equal access to information and communication.
As Nelson Mandela have said:
Eliminating the distinction between the information-rich and information-poor is (also) critical to eliminating economic and other inequalities.
As Tunisia have demonstrated, the internet is a potent tool for the advancement of democracy.
I added the word “true” because an authoritarian regime could divert the real meaning of net neutrality by claiming they are monitoring internet content to enforce net neutrality. That is not true net neutrality. Internet providers are capable of dealing with disruptive user on their own. There is due process in place for dealing with criminals whether it is offline or online. Individual user is also capable of monitoring their own connection and detect any sign of inexplicable slow down. Information about the load on a network is something that can be made available to everyone. However, the content should NOT be monitored and censored. Protecting the kids and monitoring their online activity are their parents responsibility. Using kids as excuse to censor the internet is not acceptable. Controlling speed and lowering bandwidth caps to give the carrier an advantage over its competitor is anti-competitive and should simply not be allowed.
Here is a video of a panel discussion that deals with the importance of internet in a democratic society. A bit long but it is entertaining and informative at the same time. Listen to it on your phone or portable player during your commute or while doing other chores. The forum was hosted by Churchill Club (last Wednesday, January 19th), a Silicon Valley business and technology forum.
One notable quote from the forum:
The difference between a leaker and a spy. A leaker is a spy who shares the information with everyone. A spy is more selective with whom they share the leak (right?). You are only leaking it to RUSSIA! (audience laughter). If you leak it to Russia AND everyone else at the same time, you are a leaker not a spy. But of course everybody’s getting it. But the difference is motive. The spy has the motive to only help Russia, the leaker may have other motives.
That specific speaker also mentioned earlier about the difference between motives, which matters a lot in criminal law. It could be to inform the public or to to bring down a government you hate.
Another quotable quotes from another speaker:
The existence of a free and transparent internet has actually been one of the most democratic things that have come across in the human history. The fact that the barrier to entry, that somebody with a cellphone in (you know) Alabama or Zimbabwe has access to the internet, this is one of the most profound leveling events in human history. And if we don’t protect that thing that we have built so hard to cherish, we have failed our children. The freedom of the press should not be restricted to the New York Times. But has to include Wikileaks. If we don’t fight that, we are giving up 200 years of the rights that we have fought to protect for the freedom of the press.
The speaker also asked rhetorically with regards to U.S. subpoena against twitter – which could be interpreted as asking for IP addresses of all Wikileaks reader :
Do you think the U.S. government should know the IP addresses of the 600,000 people who follow Wikileaks? I find that a terrifying infringement on the right to association.
He also noted that criticism of the government is at the core of the first amendment.
Some related news arising out of the discussion in that forum
other links to checkout:
Breaking the Net/Cell Carrier Duopoly, Plus Other Tips (My previous blog related to net neutrality)