Today marked the first anniversary of the launch of the Save The Internet coalition, a massive multi-group effort that was brought together to support the cause of net neutrality, the principle that all Internet content should be accessible to all users equally, and no provider has the right to favor their offerings over another.
- The Internet is one of the most fundamentally transformative technologies that has ever been invented. Thousands–hundreds of thousands–of new applications that no one ever considered (Web sites? Blogs? Wikis? Video over the Internet?) have blossomed and thrived because of those simple dumb protocols and fat dumb pipes. Unless there’s a massive global apocalypse that destroys all connectivity(which is possible), the generations after mine will never know a world without instant communication, and the ‘Net has made this possible.
- The notion that some traffic should be prioritized over others makes perfect sense, and always has. Let people who have the money drive in the fast lane. Build the services that need fast traffic and let them flow. My reason for supporting net neutrality was the prospect that companies would push so hard to cherry-pick the richest neighborhoods for high-speed that anyone who couldn’t afford it would be left behind. That cannot–must not–be allowed. The Net, like all great ideas, has outgrown its originators, and belongs to us all now. It gives everyone a voice, and those voices need to be heard.
- The ramping up of efforts by STI to defeat Joe Barton’s and Ted “It’s a series of tubes” Stevens’ odious telecom bills was some of the best work I’ve ever done in my life. Net neutrality is actually a very easy concept to understand, but the debate was constantly being clouded by cheesy astroturf groups and hack shills left, right, and center. You had to break it down to people in the simplest terms possible–“We want to keep the Internet as it is, and these guys are out to make you pay more for less content”–and listeners’ eyes would light up, and they’d say “Oh, my God! That’s terrible! What can I do to help?” It was an object lesson in how the truth will always win out, no matter how hard you try to bury it.
I’m certainly not foolish enough to believe the fight is over–far from it–but I am glad we held the line as we did, and that the Internet chugs along unfettered, unrestricted, and uncontrolled (for the most part). Its potential is something well worth fighting for.