The Open Internet & the Freedom of Speech

The Internet is the epitome of freedom and neutrality.

The Internet, as we currently know it, is descended from the Bulletin Board Systems of the past. BBSes were the epitome of freedom for the first generation of home PC users. That same sense of freedom was shared with the internet by BBS networks such as Fidonet, as well as newsgroups. Ever since those days, the internet itself has come to represent "true freedom"- freedom from opinion and repression, freedom of thought and expression, freedom of mobility and communication, and freedom as consumers and producers, all within our respective laws.

I feel it is necessary, for the sake of the continuance of innovation, that the internet continues to remain free. By forcing us into choose where we can go and what we can do, for the sake of "who is willing to pay more for more bandwidth and mobility", will stifle innovation, and limit all the freedoms that we, the first cyber-pioneers, knew in our youth, and brought with us into the "World Wide Web". It is in *our* best interests that the Net remain neutral. If it cannot, then it will only be natural that we will create a new place where those freedoms can exist in an equally unrestrained manner.

"This is our world now... the world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud. We make use of a service already existing without paying for what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn't run by profiteering gluttons, and you call us criminals." - Mentor, The Hacker's Manifesto, January 8, 1986

This is *still* *our* world. It is the world of the gamer, of the merchant, of the porn site, of the religious chatroom, for the left-wing and the right-wing, for the wealthy and the poor, for the eloquent and the trolls. We are not criminals, yet the ISPs who stand against Net Neutrality seek to limit what we do and where we go- they want to see us in shackles around our digital wrists and with ball-and-chain around our browsers' feet, and only if we pay more will they slightly loosen their iron-clad grip.

The day when ISPs tell us what server we can play on, or what site we can visit, or what posts we can make, or how many gigs we can download at their pre-defined speed, will be the day that the Internet will become as obsolete as BBSes.


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Similar Ideas [ 5 ]


  1. Comment

    The local grocery story does not carry a favorite product anymore. I let them know it was important to me. It is still not on the shelf.

    So now I go to a different store. I get what I want.

    I did not go to the city council and get them to pass a law to force the store to stock what I want. It would only decrease services and increase prices at groceries. It would not be right. And politicians would add more stuff that had nothing to do with my request.

    As it is, the grocery that didn't stock what I wanted is one customer closer to going out of business unless it changes its ways. My new grocery might expand; well it is one customer closer to that.

    In the same way, the market is the more effective way to bring change. FCC regulations can only harm. Calling for them is immoral and impractical.

  2. Comment
    seraphim_pwns_u ( Idea Submitter )

    Dar, hence my comment of "the day when they tell us what we can and can't do, will be the day the net is obsolete". If the freedoms that we from the BBS era took pride in can no longer be guaranteed, then we too 'will go to a different store'. Unfortunately, there is only a single store right now: the internet.

    Changing companies will not solve the problem, when all companies embrace a certain tactic- look at all the problems Ma Bell gave us, that even today we still deal with. While I do not like legislation, it is currently the *only* method, beyond the creation of a new entity of global digital communication, available to ensure the freedoms we embraced will continue.

    The Internet has existed for nearly 40 years, and in that entire time, there was no need to limit users in any way. Why, then, are we being limited now, instead of *them* expanding to meet our needs?

    Consider Comcast: For about 3 months, no Comcast user could connect to my community's game servers. Because of their surreptitious regulation of traffic, the standing of said community went down. So, what are we, both as administrators and as users, to do? I alone am not enough to get Comcast to change, and in some people's cases, Comcast is the *only* ISP in their area, so they simply could not 'go to a different store'. I lose business, the users lose content, and Comcast (if left unchecked) would have only lined their pockets. It took the actions of those promoting Net Neutrality, and therefore legislative action, to get Comcast to unblock the servers.

    And my community was not the only one to suffer from Comcast's actions- Comcast had blocked everything that uses ports from numerous content delivery systems, such as Steam. So, from this single act, users suffered, competitive e-sports teams suffered, small gamer communities suffered, large profit-making communities suffered, online game companies suffered, and Comcast got wealthier in the process, as users were paying for content they were unable to access.

    Now, if this process were left unchecked, and without the resultant government action, how would you have proposed fixing my dilemma?

  3. Comment

    Why is Comcast the only server is some areas? Look to government regulations. In some areas the issue may be the cost of infrastructure, but in most cases it is local and federal politicians that limit the number of providers.

    Actually, people all over the US can go to satellite. It not suitable for phone or some sorts of games but it is a real alternative.

    Also, many people assume there is only one when there are really several small providers competing.

    Already Comcast is hurt by this and people will jump to competitors when they can. Many though are happy with the service for the price and will not change.

    By getting rid of government intervention we improve the situation. Adding government intervention will only make it worse.

  4. Comment
    seraphim_pwns_u ( Idea Submitter )

    I don't know why it's the only server for some of those people. Maybe it's due to living in a backwoods area, or due to price, or unwillingness to terminate any contracts, or whatever reason. But none were willing or able to change ISPs. Why is not my concern. In this particular issue, my only concern is both users' bottom lines, and my own: they have fun, and my bills are paid.

    Satellite is an option for those who solely use the internet to google things or read webpages, but who is to say that satellite providers would not go the same route? In addition, for those of us who make a living based upon the speed and reliability of our internet connections (such as stock traders, pro gamers, etc), satellite is not an option. Similarly, I am fairly content with my ISP- but the hostile actions of Comcast affected what I do for a living. Why should I suffer from the actions of an ISP I don't even use?

    As much as I dislike government intervention, I am thankful they did. It would have been worse for me if other ISPs saw that people were actually paying for undelivered content as well as Comcast was saving money on the restricted port usage and tightened bandwidth, and followed suit.

    Again, my query goes unanswered: Knowing that an ISP that I do not use was affecting my bottom line, what action would you have suggested me to do?

  5. Comment

    A lot of people make decision that affect my bottom line, but I don't call for their regulation.

    What can you do?

    You can contract Comcast and tell they you want to work out a way you two can make money over communication between your site and their customers.

    You can work with past customers and potential customers in getting them to put pressure on Comcast or switch to other access companies.

  6. Comment
    seraphim_pwns_u ( Idea Submitter )

    Dar, you don't understand. I am not a big business with the clout to pressure Comcast. I don't even classify as a small business. I don't even have "customers" at all- my community subsists on donations alone. I have no big name donators who can pressure Comcast any more than I could... within the community, I *am* the big name. And when I attempted to contact Comcast, they told me, via a generic email, "We are sorry for the inconvenience". On top of that, with hundreds of other communities (free, donation, and pay alike) suffering from Comcast's actions, I would not sell out. Kowtowing to the whims of a mega-corp might be the way to make a big business, but it's not how the integrity of a community is built- it's much better PR to be known for standing for what is right and denouncing the wrongs done, than to have my community unblocked and suffer the ire of a hundred other communities from having stolen their Comcast users.

    Similarly, when Comcast is the cheapest in the area, why should I encourage my users to pay *more* for something they were already getting for *less*? This concept is tantamount to buying up all the front row seats to a concert, then scalping them at a much higher rate right in front of the box office.

    And unlike you, if something *does* affect my bottom line, I *will* take action to change it, especially if someone is doing something surreptitiously. ISPs take legal action when hackers commit denial-of-service attacks, why then, is it wrong for us to take legal action when the ISPs are committing denial-of-service attacks against us?

  7. Comment

    But you are not taking legal action, you are taking regulatory action.

    Did the company directly harm you? Sue them.

    Some years ago I created a phone interface for a product. The company sold the product to another company that dropped the SDK interface. All my work was gone. I did not get Uncle Sam to hurt people involved. If we had an agreement that would have been different. I could have asked them to compensate me.

    There are lots of things that happen on the market that can harm our businesses. Most of them do not require legal action. Very, very few require regulatory action.

    The market may or may not harm us. Regulations always will.

  8. Comment
    seraphim_pwns_u ( Idea Submitter )

    The difference between you and I, is that your product was innovated out of existence- a common occurrence amongst computers. No ones freedom of choice was stripped from them. You had the option to rework it, and offer it to another company to sell. Your product did not fail because the potential users of your product were told they were not allowed to use it... but rather because it was an obsolete form of hardware, and you did not remain competitive.

    With me, Comcast blocking the ports required prevented people from accessing the servers. It was, for all intents and purposes, a denial-of-service attack from someone who was supposed to be providing a service to access it. My users *were* told, essentially, they were not allowed to use it, and no action that I could have taken would have given them permission to access my servers.

    Your scenario requires *you* to change your behavior to continue. My scenario requires everyone *but* me to change, whether it is change their business practices, or change their ISP.

    It is far more effective to cause a business to change their practices so that it is fair for all people, instead of getting all people to boycott an ISP because of its unfair practices against a handful of people (and therefore, causing innocent workers of the ISP to suffer as well).

  9. Comment

    The internet is already free & open. If you guys do not like your ISP, then why dont you all become your own ISP & invest in the infrastructure like other internet providers have done? That way you can get access to whatever you want, at the bandwidth you want. But because you don't want to spend the thousands of dollars a month to do that, you think another business who was willing to do that should cede the rights on how they want to run their business to you? If you don't like the ball & bat you are given, then go find your own ball and bat or go home. Don't steal someone else's.