Lab #12: Controversy! Net Neutrality, Google, and TFTI

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.

More on Google vs. FCC/Comcast?
BusinessWeek 1
BusinessWeek 2

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3 thoughts on “Lab #12: Controversy! Net Neutrality, Google, and TFTI

  1. I cannot agree with this more. Comcast is one of the biggest examples of threats to net neutrality, and it’s awful to hear that they might be winning that battle in an appeals case, since I knew they had already been shut down a couple years ago in a big case. We are losing our freedom to have unrestricted internet access, which I find quite sad. So many countries have problems with content access and net neutrality because they are restricted by their governments. We don’t have this problem in the United States, but because internet providers are privatized, they are being allowed to create these restrictions themselves, which is not quite as bad, but still upsetting. I feel that sometime soon, over the next couple years, we will come to a big impasse where the issue of net neutrality will finally be decided within this country. The government will make a ruling that either supports net neutrality or puts it in the hands of big corporations, and the “Fate of the Internet” will fall upon that decision. I hope that companies like Google continue to lobby to support net neutrality, because this issue will affect our lives significantly from then on.

  2. Yeah, as much as these regulations concern me, the idea of the government having the final say scares me the most. I generally don’t use the term “Big Brother” to describe the government, but if it comes to a point where they’re ready to rule in favor of corporations to such a degree that it severely stifles internet access, I’m going really start siding with Orwell. I want corporations to do what they want, but as we saw with AIG and the banks, they can be prone to poor judgment. The last thing we need is a culture of corporatism that is funded and spearheaded by the government.

  3. I think of the internet as a free zone as well. The freedom of speech has not necessarily been restricted in the sense that people can’t say what they want, it’s that no one listens when you simply speak. The internet allows you to voice your opinion where people are likely to read it and either agree or disagree. It allows you access to a world where you can enter a site with relevant figures discussing relevant topics. It’s amazing how fast and efficient the internet is.

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