In regard to the Internet I know enough to know what I don’t know. Protecting our right to get and send information without being shoved aside or silenced is not a one front war.
The internet was created as a joint endeavor between the US government and universities. What started as a defense mechanism for emergency communication, has evolved into the pre-eminent platform of communication in the world. The path taken for this data transfer (at least in America) was done by ATT and it’s many offshoots, as well as a host of other companies (some that had that had experience laying pipe, not so much telecommunications). This trunk that connects all the Internet in America is the backbone. Access to the Backbone, and hence the rest of the world, for citizens done through ISPs (Internet Service Providers). ISPs can be almost Mom and Pop types (usually in rural areas) or behemoths like Comcast and Verizon. The danger that Net Neutrality seeks to mitigate is a provider deciding that they would like to prioritize certain traffic to its clientele.
In the worst case scenario the Comcasts, the Verizons, or the TimeWarners of the world think that since they own the wires between you and the backbone of the internet, that they have a right to control what you see. It would not be enough for them to get your money to pay for access (money= speed, you know), but they would also want you to buy their content. They wouldn’t want you learning about medieval heraldry on wikipedia or about Noam Chomsky from someone on Youtube. They would want you to have a restricted set of what you see, and if you wanted access to some esoteric site you would pay through the nose. They would charge for internet sites like they charge for cable channels. Bye-bye Netflix.
So, net neutrality, which would restrict preferential treatment of internet traffic is a good thing. It is a necessity.
But, it is not the only requirement to protect the internet as we know it. Big media providers like Google/You Tube, Netflix, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon have been creating parallel content delivery networks, used only for video transmission. The idea is that they push their data off their central servers not along a typical backbone route, but to physical locations closer to ISPs. Video demand would force ISPs to connect to these parallel networks, perhaps at the expense of or to the detriment of the Internet backbone. We must preserve this resource and not allow it to be denied to any of our citizens. We can do this through laws, and we could also allow the nation to provide high-speed access to every household.
This may require nationalization. Lest you think this is a radical idea, consider this– Many rural areas are underserved because they are not worth the investment to private companies. A program of providing internet access at fiber speed to every American household would not only make for a fairer society and bring rural America into the fold, it could provide thousands of jobs. Also consider that there are a few examples of communities providing their own service. The cable companies have fought tooth and nail to prevent other communities from following suit, preserving a monopoly status with no incentive to provide better service to its customers.
I understand the fear (considering the traitor in the office now) of the government owning vast amount of infrastructure, but a long as America contains many access points to the outside, it would be quite hard to shut off access. Basically the government would half to be hands off beyond ensuring equal access. A very interesting concept being advocated by no less than Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, is decentralization of the Internet, that we need to keep it from being controlled by a few large entities. Please take a look at the articles here on qz, The Map of the Internet. It will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the physical and logical make up of this precious international tool..
A free and open Internet is as necessary for a modern democracy as voting rights. Most of us currently have the ability to choose our sources of information. The day that changes, we get even further away from a functioning democracy than we are now. As a Congressman I would push for both net Neutrality laws and laws that protect access to a regular internet as well as simply a video delivery mechanism. If any link along the way tries to break the Internet concept, that party should be either broken up or nationalized. If nationalization takes effect on a major scale we should have an independent non-profit set up to ensure the highest speed and reliability and continued standards of data transmission.