So by now you've all heard of Net Neutrality and how Congress is considering a major overhaul of the Telecommunications Act next week.
Net Neutrality ensures that all users can access the content or run the applications and devices of their choice. With Net Neutrality, the network's only job is to move data — not choose which data to privilege with higher quality service.In a nutshell, big media and telecom companies want to get a larger and larger share of the pie, controlling what web sites we view --- or not --- depending on who pays them more. Internet for the highest bidder, essentially. Spoon-feeding us their content, rather than us seeking it out for ourselves. Just think of the implications.
In a world in which big media and telecom already own large portions of network news, print journalism, etc., the Internet is the seemingly last bastion of free speech and a true "marketplace of ideas."
The gutting of Net Neutrality will do away with all of that.
And so then Robert Litan at the Brookings Instution writes an op-ed/"Think Tank Town" piece special to the WaPo that basically argues against Net Neutrality using the same modus operandi so fully reminiscent of the Bush administration: Fear.
Imagine a world in which millions of senior citizens and disabled Americans, among others, can have, if they want, their medical conditions monitored continuously by devices that communicate over high speed, broadband networks that can automatically alert them if they require immediate medical attention. Such "remote disease management" systems not only would be highly convenient for patients, but based on evidence from the Veterans Administration's use of systems that do not yet make extensive use of broadband, could lead to huge savings in health care costs.Stop. Seriously. Don't even.
But there is a hitch. Remote disease monitoring -- and telemedicine more broadly -- cannot use broadband networks unless they are reliable. Even more important than not having your streamed movie interrupted by heavy traffic from other Internet users is not having your vital signs transmitted without interruption to the individual or computer that is remotely monitoring your health.
Yet perhaps without realizing it, those who are now advocating "net neutrality"-- the notion that those who shell out the big bucks to build new much higher speed networks can't ask the websites that will use the networks intensively to help pay for them-- could keep this new world from becoming a reality. Further, they could deprive the websites themselves of the benefits of being able to use the networks to deliver their data-heavy content.
Just as I want the government out of my uterus, so too with my Internet. Hands off.
(Thanks to Atrios for the WaPo link.)