Right now, there's a case brewing in the U.S. that pits the company Verizon Case against the U.S. Government. The case is centered around a concept called ‘net neutrality,' and it's something that you're going to hear a lot about in the very near future.
Net Neutrality Explained
In 2011, the U.S. Government created a law that requires does not allow Internet providers to discriminate where traffic is concerned. Let's break this down a bit more.
Under the net neutrality law, Google (used as an example, not a real case) can't block or slow down traffic coming from any other site – even if that site is a competitor. Verizon is arguing that the government has no right to block a company's ‘right to free speech.'
So, which side of the coin is the right one? And, where should you stand? This is a tough law to fully comprehend, and it may not be as cut and dry as most people would like to think.
Some Additional Details
Should all data on the Internet be treated fairly and equally? Should companies (like Verizon) have the right to refuse data or block that data from reaching customers? Can the government insist on such a law? Is this fair? Clearly, what we're dealing with here is a clash between government and corporation. Companies like Verizon want to block content that is not in line with their own content. In short, these companies want to shut competitors out, as though they never existed.
But, can the government really crack down on what private companies do with their own servers? Can the government state what these companies can and cannot allow clients to see and hear? It all boils down to some kind of censorship, and it seems like people are generally split on this topic.
Down the Middle
On the one hand, companies should be able to control what they put out, right? On the other, if a company really has the best product, why are they afraid to let consumers know about a competing product or service (for the sake of argument)? Imagine if Google filtered search results to eliminate those results that conflict with what Google provides or does as a company. Wouldn't that be bad?
It's hard to see which way the courts will rule with this one. For many, allowing companies to control content is just another step towards censorship, and that's a step that most people are hoping the courts won't take. Otherwise, it will be very hard to draw that fine line. What do you think about this case?
Does Verizon have a point? Is net neutrality something that needs to be emphasized, or is it just a way for governments to try and seize more control over private enterprise?
Further, do you believe that the net is free from censorship right now? Let me know what your thoughts on this matter are below.
NET Neutrality underpin innovation and diversity by ensuring that content circulates openly on the Internet, without discrimination.
EBU welcomes the adoption of clear and robust EU NET NEUTRALITY GUIDELINES
by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), which paves the way for effective net neutrality policies across the EU. On August 30th, BEREC published the guidelines following a public consultation for which it received almost half a million contributions.
The EU Net Neutrality Regulation broadly reflects the fundamental principles supported by the EBU:
- Ensure that the open Internet is the norm and specialized services the exception
- The development of specialty services must not impair open Internet access
- Clear transparency requirements to reinforce users’ trust in the open Internet
- Clear rules ensuring that equivalent types of traffic need to be treated equally
- Define the specific cases in which network operators can manage Internet traffic
- Prevent undue content blocking or discrimination.
EBU Deputy Head of European Affairs Wouter Gekiere said:
“A major building block of the Digital Single Market has been laid down. Despite the significant pressure, BEREC has carefully devised clear instructions which fully reflect the spirit of the law adopted last year by the EU.”
He added: “With the guidelines, EU rules for net neutrality underpin innovation and diversity by ensuring that content circulates openly on the Internet, without discrimination. This is very important for EU public service media organizations, which need to ensure that their online services can be efficiently distributed and easily accessed by all citizens.”