Here's a description.
Net Neutrality is the guiding principle that preserves the free and open Internet.
Net Neutrality means that Internet service providers may not discriminate between different kinds of content and applications online. It guarantees a level playing field for all Web sites and Internet technologies.
Net Neutrality is the reason the Internet has driven economic innovation, democratic participation and free speech online. It protects the consumer's right to use any equipment, content, application or service without interference from the network provider. With Net Neutrality, the network's only job is to move data -- not to choose which data to privilege with higher quality service.
Say that I'm google. Without Net Neutrality, I could pay an ISP such as AT&T to make MY search engine load faster than Yahoo or Bing anyone else. Or, perhaps even make those sites not load at all. Net Neutrality prevents ISPs from being able to charge their users for, say, a "entertainment package" that makes sites like Hulu, Youtube and Netflix.com load fast. As opposed to slow or not at all if you don't pay.
It ensures that Microsoft can't pay Verizon to make Xbox Live run much faster than the Playstation Network, or pay to make it run slower. It guarantees that my voice, some random jackass with a strange blog, is on equal footing with any other site on the internet. It protects the internet as a format for free and equal speech.
The above image depicts a, hopefully unlikely, but possible worst case scenario of an internet without Net Neutrality.
One of the arguments ISPs make against Net Neutrality is that it doesn't allow them to "monetize their networks" while conveniently forgetting that, their customers are ALREADY paying to use the networks. Also that Net Neutrality prevents them from being able to invest in the networks. Again, forgetting that customers are paying for the networks. Giving them money to further invest in the speed and reliability of the network. What should motivate ISPs to invest in their networks is and should be competition. You know, with other ISPs. The free market and all that jazz. You've heard of it, I assume?
So what's the ACTUAL motivation by ISPs? Money of course. They want more money. Do they deserve it? Absolutely not. They like to bitch about sites like youtube who "hog bandwidth" and "use their pipes for free" while, yet again, forgetting about the customers who pay. If I spend all day watching videos on youtube, that bandwidth transaction has been paid for. By me when I pay for my internet connection. No one is "owed" anything or is "freeloading" off of anyone. Google pays to host youtube and I pay for the connection that takes me there. ISPs want to double-dip, as in, they want to charge ME to get to youtube and also youtube to get to ME.
An argument that some misinformed people make is that, the big old mean government, once they get their claws into the internet through Net Neutrality, will have total control and will ruin the internet forever. Your privacy will be gone and the internet as we know it will cease to exist. It seems to me that it's at the very least a stretch to assume that Net Neutrality is what the government needs to do this, if they really wanted to. Remember, the government is also in charge of that "first amendment" thing. Which, I assume, you wouldn't call "government control and regulation of speech" would you?
Net Neutrality is a boon to the free market, it keeps competition fair and results an in internet that can truly serve it's purpose. In my opinion, the internet is the greatest example of free speech ever created. On the internet, all have an equal chance to be heard. No one can can censor, filter or alter your speech. You can say anything you want and express any opinion you have about any subject. To turn this over to the whims of a few corporations using the "omg it's their private network" excuse is far too little, far too late. The internet has become an essential part of not just American life, but the lives of people across the world. the internet must remain an open and neutral place for discussion and the exchange of ideas.
More info and reading on the subject:
- Virtual Freedom: Net Neutrality and Free Speech in the Internet Age
- Net Neutrality on Wikipedia
- One-Stop Shop for Net Neutrality Action
- Spread The World
Any any more interesting links? Leave a comment and I'll add them.