Saturday, July 7, 2007

A Foreshadowing of the Effects of Net Neutrality

Last night I struggled in vain to watch/listen to the Live Earth Concerts provided by MSN for those stuck at home (or in the woods, as I am) without TV. After a number of tantalizing snippets from Australia, Japan, and China, I finally gave up. It almost made me cry. The Australian groups performing looked to be wonderful and I wished with all my heart to be able to "be there," via satellite images and audio, with them.

I have a dial-up connection, and not always even that. It was one of the bitter choices I had to make when moving away from civilization, or at least, concentrations of it. There is no fast internet where I live except by satellite. Despite cutting trees and putting a huge, heavy dish up on a tall platform on the roof, no adequate signal has as yet been achieved.

Last night got me to ruminating about what it will be like when the death of net neutrality takes effect, when the huge telecoms start adding costs to connection fees, altering speeds for those with or without big money, blocking access to sites they do not like or with whom they are in competition; in other words, uber-controlling the net. Perhaps many of the millions watching Live Earth from the poorer homes of folks who work two jobs (or more) just to survive and feed their families, will not, in future, be able to see or participate in such a program. Perhaps the program itself would not be permitted to air simply because the big providers refuse access.
Perhaps, even if allowing access, the corporations allow only slow-speed versions so that, while they have not blocked access, they have made it virtually impossible to actually see/hear the program.

Losing net neutrality is no small matter. It grieves me that there has been no real fight, as yet, to stop this potential huge loss to free speech and universal access to information in this allegedly free country.

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