There has been a lot of talk about Google lately – Google vs. China, Google Earth being creepy/useful, Google vs. What Else I Could Be Doing with My Time Other Than Random Searches. Wherever you go, wherever you find your news, Google is a hot topic. To many people it is the ONLY search engine, and because of its popularity and the development of useful applications such as Google Earth, it’s logical that at some point, Google would court some controversy, especially when it comes to the issue of net neutrality.
According to Business Week, “Google Inc. spent $1.4 million in the first quarter to lobby the federal government on everything from its decision to stop censoring search results in China to the tussle over open Internet rules before the Federal Communications Commission.” Clearly, Google is not trying to be a friend of “Big Brother” at this point, which is actually somewhat ironic, considering that it can be used to track people’s whereabouts, as well as their personal information. Regardless, Google is obviously concerned about what I am now calling TFTI, or The Fate of the Internet. The company is essentially trying to have the FCC establish rules that would prevent ISPs “from limiting web traffic,” or more specifically, “from favoring some content providers over others.” In response, the FCC is at least “considering” the option of net neutrality, or the much talked about policy that “would prevent companies from favoring some content and from blocking or slowing the services of other companies.” Yet even with the FCC’s consideration of such a policy, the future looks somewhat grim for Google with the U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that the FCC cannot prevent “Comcast [from] blocking subscribers using peer-to-peer software often used to view videos” (BusinessWeek).
As someone who is a HUGE proponent of freedom of speech and an individual’s right to access most forms of content, I do find it fairly egregious that there are corporations that are trying to stifle Internet access to a certain extent. At the same time, I don’t think that corporations such as Comcast are trying to ruin the Internet – it’s their job to provide access to it, so why would they completely sabotage it? I usually think that since they are privately run, companies have every right to provide a variety of different services to people and a right to regulate and restrict access, but when it comes to the Internet, I tend to agree with supporters of net neutrality. The other day, some of my classmates stated that they think of the Internet as “one of the last free zones.” Unfortunately, I think there is an element of truth in that statement, although I can’t exactly articulate why I feel our freedom of speech has been jeopardized in other ways. Ideally, I’d like the Internet to remain relatively unrestricted, and if Comcast and other corporations insist on becoming more and more restrictive, then a policy of net neutrality should definitely be implemented.