This has been quite the debate over the last year, but the term “net neutrality” (also known as network neutrality, net equality and internet neutrality) was actually created in 2003 by a media law professor by the name of Tim Wu. Tim’s argument is that all information on the world wide web should be readily available to everyone who pays for it. Why pay for a service that only lets us see half of the story, right? The debate even goes back further than the term and is effectively a form of free speech.
The United States have been hit hardest with this debate, with there being several laws against certain materials on the web and unnecessary blocking of content by service providers. There has also been some concerns here in the UK as we recently saw the banning of various video recorded female sexual acts being published online. It threw up various debates on what we can and cannot view online as adults and as internet users. There are several pros and cons to having the web at all of our fingertips, below are just a few that could tip the scales either way.
Pro – You Can Decide For Yourself What You Can And Cannot See
Obviously this could be fantastic, you’ll be able to view content that perhaps others would deem as inappropriate. This doesn’t necessarily mean pornographic or sexually explicit material, as many websites are blocked for other reasons. If you see something you do not like you can easily personally block that website from your browser yourself without effecting other people.
Con – There Will Always Be The Ability To Block Websites
Whether you like it or not, there is always going to be material on the web that is generally seen as wrong or inappropriate. For example, shops and restaurants who offer free WiFi will still have the right to block websites from the users. You’ll only be in control of your own internet at home, you won’t be able to see some material on networks that are open or shared.
Pro – You’ll Be Able To See What Information Of Yours Is Being Shared
The idea of your life being linked to the online world is daunting, but if no websites are blocked there will be instances where you can discover more about who can see your information. With no clock to hide under, companies who openly share your info will be unmasked and you’ll have more control over it.
Con – The Information You Do Share Will Be Seen By Everyone
Although you’ll be able to see what’s being shared, the downside is that if you’ve already shared too much of your information online then everyone will be able to access it. So companies who want to sell you services can, especially if you’ve left personal contact info on social profiles such as Facebook/Twitter.
Pro – You Cannot Be Stopped From Sharing Your Personal Opinion
Many have seen themselves questioned by police and other authorities over comments they make on their blogs or social profiles, but with net neutrality this simply will not happen. Unless you’re breaking the law (with threats of life or terrorism) you will be left well alone with your opinion. Even if people disagree with you, you cannot have your word taken away from you.
Con – Adverts And Spammy Websites Will Not Be Stopped Without Personal Blocking
Websites that many will view as spammy or are more of an advertisement will not be stopped before reaching you. If you don’t have virus scanners or pop up blockers installed on your computer you could be at risk from viruses and malware. If every website has the right to exist and be on the web there’s no telling exactly how much of the internet will become one massive advertisement.