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Internet will have boundaries

    grand plan. It came out of nothing and is now a worldwide system of companies,” said Department Chairman of Computer Information Systems Tim Gall.

“These companies now believe they should be able to pay for their content to be the fastest and for their chosen content to be the first in a search engine.”

People “in the know” partially see these as natural advancements for the companies involved, similar to phone companies monopolizing in the mid-eighties before government regulation kicked in.

“The Internet is a commodity just like anything else and the companies think they should be allowed to capitalize on this commodity,” said Richard Garrett, a faculty member in the information systems department.

The broadband networks are backed up by the Republican Party and Tea Party think tanks. With the Republicans taking the house in the most recent elections, Net Neutrality is most likely dead in its tracks.

“I think there was always a sense in Washington that no company would be powerful enough to do this stuff on their own,” said Gall. “There are so many different components to the Internet and so much segmentation that it’s just not as easy as it sounds to monopolize the Internet.”

This idea, that the issue is really a non- issue, seems to be a commonly held belief.

“The Internet is world-wide and very vast and I just don’t think they would be able to do what the government is saying they’re doing. The government controlling the Internet would be more similar to a monopoly. I mean, pretty soon the

Internet will be so fast it will hardly matter,” said networking major John Rouse.

Then why is it a government talking point? Cynics believe that it’s just a topic behind bandied about as a popular debate. Tim Wu, a professor of Columbia law who popularized the Net Neutrality Act in his 2003 article, Net Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination, detailed discrimination by broadband companies. He has continued to be a leader in getting information about what companies will be able to do with their power.

In his May 1 article for Slate magazine, “Is Net Neutrality Dead”, Wu described what common carriers are. These are businesses that by their nature are public calling, or public privilege, such as telephones, railroads and taxis. Wu says the rules for the Internet have changed from this common carrier practice.

“But as the 21st century began, the Bush administration, in one of several experiments in neoclassical economics, decided to abandon the common carrier model for communications. Cheered on by economists, industry and some technologists, the FCC, under Chairman Michael Powell, declared that both DSL service and cable broadband were no longer covered by the FCC’s authority to regulate common carriers,” states WU in his article.

This made the FCC unable to block Comcast from shutting down certain Bit Torrent sites that were extremely popular.

Verizon CEO Lowell Mcadam and Google CEO Eric Schmidt issued a press statement together on Oct. 21 where they initially called themselves “unlikely bedfellows,” but also declared that they would work with the FCC and sent a strong message to people that these companies were not going to railroad Internet users. For now, they have the final word.

“First, it’s obvious that users should continue to have the final say about their web experience, from the networks and software they use, to the hardware they plug in to the Internet and the services they access online.The Internet revolution has been people powered from the very beginning and should remain so. The minute that anyone, whether from government or the private sector, starts to control how people use the Internet, it is the beginning of the end of the Net as we know it.” 

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