By Chris Nelson
MUHLENBERG COUNTY, KY – Do internet users in the United States have a valid concern, about possible interference by the government, with regard to the neutrality of the internet?
Many experts think that the answer to that question is an unequivocal and emphatic yes. Many computer privacy experts insist that the policies adopted by the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday December the 21st, 2010 have the potential to become some big initial steps in that direction.
The official press release sub-title from the FCC reads, “Action Helps Ensure Robust Internet for Consumers, Innovation, Investment, and Economic Prosperity”. The policies were passed with three commissioners voting to pass the measures, and two commissioners offering up a dissenting vote. The language of the policies is wrought with phrases that are vague and pose the potential for dangerous loopholes. One such phrase in particular, which troubles this author a great deal reads as follows “This process has made clear that the Internet has thrived because of its freedom and openness — the absence of any gatekeeper blocking lawful uses of the network or picking winners and losers online. Consumers and innovators do not have to seek permission before they use the Internet to launch new technologies, start businesses, connect with friends, or share their views.”
I personally agree with the FCC in regard to part of that statement. The internet has become a powerful tool worldwide for the proliferation of thoughts, ideas, and information. There is little doubt that the internet has had a given a great number of benefits to those who use it, and up to this point a great deal of those benefits have been due in part to a limited amount of interference by federal authorities. The word lawful there gives me pause, I am not advocating illegal activity, but to see that word as a qualifier just four paragraphs into a press release about a policy, without detailed definition makes me think that loopholes allowing more governmental control than indicated up front may well exist. If the government begins to exercise control over the internet and police it, what is to keep them from following the lead of China or other communist nations and censor the net all together within our borders? It seems to me that the FCC, an agent of the federal government (the biggest gatekeeper of all time), speaking of the absence of an internet gatekeeper is a bit like the fox guarding the hen house.
The policy has statements that lend themselves to being stacked more in the favor of corporate America, while giving the individual an illusion of protection of their rights, by using vague double talk, as in the following statement “The rules require all broadband providers to publicly disclose network management practices, restrict broadband providers from blocking Internet content and applications, and bar fixed broadband providers from engaging in unreasonable discrimination in transmitting lawful network traffic. The rules ensure much-needed transparency and continued Internet openness, while making clear that broadband providers can effectively manage their networks and respond to market demands.” Some debate whether or not the policies will have any effect and whether they will stand almost certain court Scrutiny that surely lies ahead. All that said this move by the FCC, should serve to engrave on the minds of internet users the following adage “buyer, or in this case, user, beware.”
It appears that twitter continues to further cement its place as an efficient global communications tool, as VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) giant Skype, which allows users to make telephone calls over the computer without the use a telephone landline, used it on Wednesday to announce to its customers that its servers were experiencing difficulty.