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Arguments for …

In our debate, watch Professor Les Carr present some arguments both for and against net neutrality.
PROFESSOR LES CARR: So why should we consider net neutrality to be important? The internet has been proposed by many as a human right because it’s so effective, it has had such an impact on people’s lives all across the planet, and we would like that to only improve. Now the Web, and the internet, these are– we consider these to be public systems, public environments, but they’re built on top of privately owned pieces of hardware. So it’s one big open system with many privately owned components. And what the idea of net neutrality tries to bring out is that the internet as a whole shouldn’t be controlled by the people who own it.
The argument is that it’s like a water company trying to control what sort of vegetables you are allowed to boil when you’re cooking. So we wouldn’t put up with that kind of interference in the decisions that we take. And net neutrality says that we shouldn’t be subject to that kind of interference in the sorts of service, and the sorts of information, the sorts of data, that we can receive over the internet, because the internet is more than just one company’s plaything. Another argument is one around innovation. So when the internet was being developed in 1980, no one had any clue what it would eventually be used for.
And so the world that we see now, we see it precisely because there was a neutral internet that allowed anyone to come along and create a new service. The Web, sure, put your packets, put your information on the internet. Let it be used by anyone in the world. And Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, all of these, because anyone could connect their computer servers up to the internet and have their services delivered to anybody else on the internet without worrying whether a particular internet service provider would say, “we don’t like Facebook, we much prefer that old thing, Myspace. So we’re only going to deliver Myspace packets to our users.”
So the innovation argument is both that the kinds of information that you deliver, the kinds of services, and also the heft, if you like, of the company that’s delivering them shouldn’t matter. So you can have startups competing with established services on pretty much what we hope will be a level playing field. Now as well as internet service providers, people like British Telecom, in the United Kingdom, or AT&T in the States, we also have a whole new set of people trying to set up new kinds of internet, where there isn’t any at the moment, where there hasn’t been a communications infrastructure.
So Google have a new project, Project Loon, which is releasing balloons into the stratosphere to act as communications relays, to bring the internet to new parts of the world. Facebook are doing something similar in Africa, they have a project which they’ve called, which is all about bringing the internet to new communities, to people who don’t have smart phones and laptops. So the argument is that ISPs should not become gatekeepers of what works, and what is allowed to work, on the internet, and what is not allowed to thrive. The Web that Tim Berners-Lee created was neutral. It was based on these ideas, it was an open, collaborative platform.
The Web that we’ve got now that we see is because we’ve had this principle in practise. And we must decide, what is the Web that we want in the future? Is it one that can continue to sustain this innovation.

In this video, Professor Les Carr presents arguments for net neutrality whilst reminding us that although the Web can be considered as a public open system it is built on top of privately owned components.

Now watch this video Net Neutrality Kills created by the online campaign group Initially, they were unsuccessful in lobbying the European Parliament as on the 27th October 2015 the European Parliament voted not to adopt amendments that would have brought clarity to net neutrality regulation. This resolution did not stop from continuing to campaign. As a result on 30th August 2016 the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC) included clearer Net Neutrality regulations in their final guidelines.

Julia Reda is a Member of the European Parliament from the Pirate Party. Watch this short interview with Julia Reda that we filmed in October 2016 in which she discusses the importance of net neutrality. You may also be interested in reading her blogpost Victory for Net Neutrality in Europe.
You may be interested in further articles supporting the case for net neutrality. These are available from links in the See Also section at the bottom of this page.
Are you convinced by these arguments? Are there other arguments you can think of for net neutrality?
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