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Net Neutrality — Who Owns the Web? Do We Need Two?


Some slangers sling around the words "Internets" or "Interwebs" to be cheeky — who knew how close to true it might be!

A new book by Jonathan Zittrain called The Future of the Internet – And How to Stop It posits the notion of separate but equal webs. Two of them! One, a closely guarded content provider that will severely limit hackers and would allow only limited programs — and another one for off-the-grid surfing where anything goes, with the risk that the movie file you um, borrowed, is actually carrying a nasty little virus.

A less vulnerable, more-limited Internet would offer safety with a catch: content regulation. A “safe” Internet, with its policing could end the fast and free Internet we currently enjoy. Who else wants to get their hands on the policing of the webs? Congress. To see who might hijack your Sugar browsing, read more.

Congress is currently debating two bills with different takes on Net Neutrality — the debate between those who want the Internet to be tightly regulated like television and radio with fewer administrators calling the shots and those in favor of the current Wild West sort of forum.

Why care about Net Neutrality? It could mean that content would be prioritized — email could be put in line and sent only after more important messages are delivered. And there's the sticky question of censorship. With an Internet put in the hands of fewer people, material deemed offensive could be cut off from the Internet completely.

The current debate shapes up like this: Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), fears an Internet breach of antitrust regulation saying:

The Internet was designed without centralized control, without gatekeepers for content and services. If we allow companies with monopoly or duopoly power to control how the Internet operates, network providers could have the power to choose what content is available.

However, some like Republican congressman John Upton (R-MI) disagree:

There is no solid evidence of consumers being blocked from any content or application on the web, and the very few times consumers have been troubled with something, the issue has been resolved without imposing regulations or legislation, indicating that market forces indeed work.

Would you be in favor of tighter Internet regulations? Are two Internets the answer to the question of Net Neutrality? Is the Internet really the democratic forum that it appears to be?

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