Internet Neutrality has become a big topic among some groups. The fear is that some ISPs will filter internet users content, arbitrarily excluding whatever items they want without explanation or disclosure. The temptation is too great for some ISPs (Verizon, Comcast, ATT, et. al.) not to block certain IP addresses, say for example, that of a competitor.
This amounts to corporate censorship. If I have a Verizon account and I want to research other telephone companies, will I get accurate results? What about some potential regulation change that the company didn’t want to have congress pass? How about adverse rulings about Verizon from the state public service commission?
In light of the NBC/Universal – Comcast deal announced last week, those concerns appear to carry even more weight. If the internet is going to replace radio, TV, and newspapers as some suggest, access must be unfettered. Any member of the public should be able to search through any ISPs infrastructure and find all relevant data.
There have been FCC hearings on the matter, there is a NPRM, a web site has been set up, there is a wikipedia entry. Recently, senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) have come out against the idea of Net Neutrality, although I cannot imagine why.
I decided to do a little experiment myself. At my official job, we have to ISPs, each on a separate T-1 line. The first ISP is a local company, Best Web. The other ISP is Verizon. On the Best Web circuit, I did a Google search for some innocuous term, with safe search turned off. I then used the same search terms on the Verizon circuit. I was surprised to see different results for each search. I did specific searches for items based on a geographical location, e.g. “widgets, Washington DC.” In each case, the Verizon search results were missing some of the pages that the Best Web search results had. This is going through Google. I have Verizon at home also, and noted the same differences there.
By this relatively brief research, it would seem that Verizon is filtering out some pages they don’t like. It is difficult to say why, and if I didn’t go through the trouble of changing ISPs and repeating the search, I would have never known about it. Clearly most people don’t understand:
This is already happening!
This is one of the key problems with the “internet” future. Access to data can be very easily controlled by programming fire walls and gateways at the IPS’s data center. Users searching for items will never know what they are missing. Having a diverse broadcasting industry has fostered freedom of the press and advanced our democracy. Loosing that will put us on a slipper road to Corporatocracy, if we are not already there.
One thought on “Net Non-Neutrality”
I happen to agree wholeheartedly. Funny results can be obtained and with the IP address of the requestor being known each time a search is performed, data could be collected on this IP address as to what kind of searches are being sought. This is especially true with static-IPs. Some worry about Goooooogle becoming too big for their britches, and since they own YouTube, much controversy lately has occurred regarding comments being removed, company infringements, and other general problems as to censorship. A group in Texas has launched Scroogle.org which uses Goooogle but gives anonymity to the requester, thereby fooling Goooogle’s data recording and caching. With all of the hub-bub with AT&T releasing IP data to Bush under the guise of “terrorism”, without warrants, the Electronic Freedom Foundation (www.eff.org) has sued the Feds and now Obumma is asking for dismissal. Change you say???? I don’t see any and I certainly didn’t expect any. As for McCain, my opinion is that he is bought and paid for. People I know in Phoenix tell me that it is special interest money that keeps electing him. Where have the intelligent voters gone???? As for the current FCC Chairman, I believe he is well intentioned as to net neutrality, however he only can propose rules and cannot enact laws, It will be a slow turtle in the courts as to the outcome.