Pipeline vs Freeway: What is Net Neutrality, Really?

Net neutrality treats the Internet as a data pipeline, akin to a water pipeline. It doesn’t discriminate between the content that flows through it.

That’s all net neutrality is.

But there are Republican politicians who want to monetize the Internet pipeline on behalf of Internet providers, turning it into something more akin to a freeway with fast lanes and slow lanes. On the freeway model, websites, ads, and streaming videos from large corporations and billionaire-funded politicians would load quickly (because they’ve paid big bucks to get their messages prioritized and channeled past non-paying messages), while everybody else’s messages (whistle-blowers, small alternative media, YouTube video makers, podcasters, bloggers, etc.) would stall and get buried in the data slow lanes.

A monetized Internet dis-empowers individuals and empowers large corporations and rich interests.

I support leaving the Internet pipeline a pipeline, not turning it into a freeway with fast and slow lanes. Whatever flows, let it flow at exactly the same rates (as the situation is now). That’s net neutrality.

If you have an Internet connection, and put data out on the Internet in the form of a podcast, a video, an image, or a text, people should be able to locate you, and download what you have to say as quickly and as easily as, say, McDonald’s or the Koch brothers. It’s what makes the Internet awesome and democratically empowering–whether you’re 18 or 80.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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1 Response to Pipeline vs Freeway: What is Net Neutrality, Really?

  1. andrewclunn says:

    So one sided.

    Technical point:
    Uploads and downloads do not put the same strain on the system, since servers can be hosted to duplicate content for download, thus making static downloads cheaper traffic wise (vs back and forth communication) because it doesn’t have to go through as many connection points.

    Legal point:
    Give the FCC regulatory power over internet traffic (which would be required to implement net neutrality without requiring all new legislation) would enable much more regulation of content and packet routing than simply what is required for net neutrality.

    These two points MUST be understood to have an honest debate about net neutrality. Stop thinking that people like John Oliver know what their talking about on this issue, they don’t. You need to seek out some informed people who disagree with you.

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