The Net Neutrality struggle
Posted by Karen on Sep 25, 2015 12:00:00 AM
The net neutrality debate in the EU Parliament is heating up, with discussion of the need to allow some internet “fast lanes”, specifically for services such as internet TV and “ specialised services” (which may relate to Internet of Things developments, such as connected cars). These new exemptions to the stringent regulations proposed in 2014 are being opposed by net neutrality campaigners and more than 100 MEPs concerned that the new proposals make the net neutrality legislation “ ambivalent”. Although similar exceptions have been made by the FCC in America, the much larger debate over the reclassification of broadband and the political reaction has overshadowed this fact in the media . Campaigners, such as the Open Rights Group (ORG), are worried that the proposed legislation is too watered down, with ORG director, Jim Killock arguing that: "If companies can buy their way to a faster internet, it will stifle creativity and threaten the openness of the internet." However, everything in life, unfortunately, comes with some kind of class system. If someone is prepared to pay more for a better service (whether that is first class on a plane, a sports car, a shorter delivery slot from a retail store or box seats at the theatre) then there is little point in trying to make everyone experience the same service. Ultimately, this ‘tiered’ system does benefit everyone, as more money is available to invest back into the product. International flights are a great example. They are profitable because of Business/First class, and while it is true they don’t necessarily arrive sooner, they do get more room and a better ‘experience’. If only one class of seats were available either those unable to afford business class wouldn’t be able to travel or an economy only airline would struggle. Even with no frills airlines we see premium services available at an additional cost. But like anything in a capitalist society, people can choose not to spend their money on additional services, as some see it as a waste.
In less developed countries, Facebook has partnered with six other businesses to create internet.org, which aims to connect as many people to the internet as possible, calling it a human right.However, it has been accused of compromising the principles of net neutrality, with Indian campaigners protesting at the owners practice of deciding what websites would and would not be included on the internet.org app – effectively making it Facebook and co’s private internet. Internet.org responded to the outcry by opening up the service to more developers, who would still need to follow strict guidelines to be included on the service. The net neutrality debate is ongoing, and probably will be for some time, as ISPs and content providers try to balance the need for fair access to content with the physical capacity of broadband infrastructure and service demands. Legislation not only needs to address political and social concerns but enable companies to build a solid internet infrastructure for future demands placed on it (such as connected cities).