Without a doubt, there is a tremendous debate in the current era regarding the freedom of access as it pertains to the internet. A lot of people are at odds with internet freedom, often known as net neutrality because the predominating discussion regarding free speech and access to the internet is a very polarizing discussion. Whereas many people assume that free speech is an absolute given right that everyone should enjoy, there are others that don’t think the rights and access to the internet should be as freely given. Regardless of the varying opinions, most people are well aware that having access to the internet for the long term is a good thing, but opponents on the other side of the aisle claim that unlimited internet access is by no means a good thing. Despite the arguments on both sides, there are considerable arguments to be had that favor both positions.
List of Pros of Net Neutrality
1. Freedom of Speech
As it pertains to freedom of speech, net neutrality ensures that it exists. Without a single entity controlling the discussion, it ensures that any man, woman, or child (who is old enough to responsibly post) has the option to let their opinion be known. This is very critical to keep in mind, because of people who assume that having this sort of unlimited access is perfectly fine. Net neutrality ensures that none of their speech can be censored, and in the event that it is censored, they can file a complaint with the relevant authorities and address any sort of wrongdoing that was done on the part of someone trying to censor them.
2. Competition and Free Market Ideals
In the spirit of free market idealism, net neutrality allows competitors to freely do whatever they wish in the internet marketplace. While some people disagree with the free market, the theory is that a free market will enable the best products and services to come out on top. This is very true for a lot of services that are often not as well known, but when they enter a competitive marketplace, they’re able to stand out and shine to their fullest extent. This is very true with a lot of journalistic organizations that provide alternative viewpoints. In an internet marketplace with net neutrality, their products and information can be disseminated to a wide audience with censure, ensuring that they can exist and promote more informational competitive in the communication marketplace.
3. Informational Integrity
With net neutrality, customers can rest assured that their private information will remain private. Whether it’s stored credit card data or social security numbers, net neutrality means it has to be treated just as sacred and important as any other sort of data.
List of Cons of Net Neutrality
1. Anything Goes
While net neutrality allows for freedom of speech, the downside is that almost anything can be posted to the internet. This means that the cruelest or insensitive information imaginable can end up on the internet, and as a result, it can cause a lot of problems from people that otherwise wouldn’t be prone to being under the microscope of criticism. This means that people can post cruel, intimidating, or other harassing messages and often get away with it thanks to free speech legislation. So it can be a very toxic environment for a lot of people to put up with.
2. Informational Exploitation
Without limits set on bandwidth, this means that individuals with very powerful computer technology or internet data allocation can absolutely dominate the marketplace. In other words, if you live in a neighborhood that is deregulated, this means that there is going to be a lot of battle over the sum bandwidth space. In the current marketplace, yes, people can enjoy the freedom of movement and the unrestricted ability to constantly download or share information. However, in other spaces, it means that there is going to be a lot more in terms of complicated information that is required to be disseminated. There are so many other bandwidth providers that otherwise wouldn’t be able to help them accomplish this, but by having net neutrality, it means that the free market can sometimes go unchecked. This is where smaller competitors will get wiped out, and while some people could theoretically argue that this is a good thing, it overall isn’t the best way to really market a product or a service effectively.
3. Handcuffs Bigger Markets
When it comes to the current status, bigger markets aren’t able to maximize their products. They’re handcuffed by the current laws that are in place, and until something changes, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to become more competitive overnight.
Overall, this is a very complex debate with arguments on both sides, and regardless of what happens, for now, net neutrality is here to stay.
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.