The Open Internet & Innovation

The Internet and Our Future Are Connected

What is the internet? There seems to be some confusion depending on who you ask. Is it a service that a person or business provides at an expense of resources? Is it a universal communication method, replacing the older telephone and mail methods? Perhaps it's a gigantic marketplace, a hub of trading on an unimaginable scale? Whatever you believe the internet to be, it is undeniably the single most important tool mankind has at its disposal, and one that must remain open and equal in every way.

 

I do not deny that it costs money to provide internet service. From building and maintaining server farms to the laying of and maintenance of data cables and wireless towers around the globe, there is no doubt a cost to the physical portion of the internet. By all means, whoever paid for the infrastructure should have the right to charge for access to it! Nobody is claiming otherwise. But should a company have a right to restrict access to any portion of this compendium of all human knowledge?

 

When the public internet was created (the military had thought of it as a strategic tool), it was conceived of as a way to break through the barrier that had held humanity back for so long. Progress was slow before the internet; ideas, discoveries, even colloquialisms took weeks or even months to travel from one area to the next. Knowledge was a commodity, more-so than it is today, and lack of knowledge held people back and kept them under the control of those who had knowledge. The internet leveled that playing field and gave everyone a chance to rise out of ignorance.

 

Since that time, the internet has expanded to become a meeting ground for like-minded individuals separated by vast oceans, a marketplace for those too busy to find what they need in a store, an informational hub where data, software, and multimedia can be traded freely by users. It is by all accounts the most used technology on Earth, perhaps behind only the gun and the car in terms of how many use it every day.

 

That said, it would be patently unfair to block off access to, or meter access to, any portion of the internet. It would be restricting access to information and knowledge, however useful or useless it might seem to the average person. Humanity is at a precipice of change; we can embrace free information and the limitless possibilities it brings, both positive and negative, or we can censor and limit the transfer of knowledge and get more predictable results at the expense of missing out on many great ideas that would have been otherwise possible.

 

In practical terms, a company might choose to limit access to its competitors websites or services. Imagine if you paid for Cox, or Verizon, and tried to use a service like Skype or Google Voice, only to find that it was so slowed down it became unusable. When you go to ask why, they would tell you it was to encourage you to use their own phone services, something that would cost you more every month for fewer features. It would be monopolistic at best, downright subversive and mob-like at worst. People would cease to use the internet in the same way, and as more and more services began to slow down until you paid to speed them up, people would have access to less and less knowledge by virtue of saving money for more necessary things like food and electricity.

 

This cannot be allowed to happen. If we are to succeed as a species we must have equality in as many ways as possible. If we cannot share resources equally, we must share rights and knowledge equally. If we cannot share rights equally, we must share resources and knowledge equally. If we cannot share knowledge equally, we must share rights and resources equally. There is no hope for us if we cannot agree to share at least 2/3 of our basic human needs equally.

 

You may hear this described as Socialism. It is not. You may hear those on the far right cry "Communism!", but they are wrong. It is still Capitalism, however we the people are choosing to tell businesses that if they offer a service they must offer it fully and equally with no restrictions. It is our right in this nation to make laws that protect ourselves, even at the expense of business (especially at its expense, if we're smart).

 

There must be no distinction between methods used, either. Wireless, wired, it does not matter. As new technology comes out, wireless will replace wired anyways, and we cannot allow companies like Google and Verizon to set a precedent by metering access to wireless internet. They each make billions of dollars per year. Perhaps instead of spending that money on their executives' inflated salaries, they can spend it on improving their infrastructure to meet increased demand. If they truly need a government subsidy to expand their wireless coverage, fine, but we taxpayers should receive a discount on service for footing the bill for their towers, and if a tower was paid for completely by taxes we should receive service from that tower for free.

 

Corporations think they can own everything, that everything can be turned into profit. It is up to US, the people of America, and of Earth, to stop them from monetizing every single resource we have.

 

Vote to make Internet Access open and equal!

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21 votes
Idea No. 406