Net Neutrality, the catchphrase being bandied about the web refers to issues around who controls the information available on World Wide Web.Net Neutrality can simply be defined as The principle that the Internet should not differentiate or distinguish between the data transmitted. The definition itself is fairly innocuous when it stands alone but once placed into context, it becomes far more significant.
The internet as a form of media is largely unregulated and free for the unfettered enjoyment by virtually anyone. Much of what you view or listen to online is produced, manipulated or delivered by individuals or small groups of people. Corporate media has little if any control over what you choose to consume online. In comparison, traditional forms of media such as print, radio, and television are 99% controlled by corporations who profit from virtually everything you choose to read, listen to or watch.
So when the definition is placed into this context, we begin to see what is at stake. The internet as a competing form of media is a HUGE hole in the blanket monopoly corporate media has had on the information we consume for more than 100 years. Corporate media is losing billions of dollars a year to you, me and every pimply-faced kid in the world who has created a blog, posted a video or created a website.
Now imagine if all this uncontrolled information we consume on the net could be pipelined through and controlled by, our traditional media providers. What was the single most powerful voice for the common man, woman, and child in the history of the world, would be instantly silenced. What would be left is nothing more than the sterile trash corporate media offers us now. The web would simply become a digital dispensary device for bad sitcoms, trashy online celebrity mags and a never-ending parade of music idols.
In addition to corporate media being quite happy if they could gain control of the net, I am quite certain governments the world over would be quite happy as well. With the advent of the net, it has become much more difficult for politicians to manipulate the populace and feed the people what they want them to know. Politicians have ceased to be simple media creations and are now human beings. Skeletons are much more difficult to keep locked up in the closets of the past. Accountability to the people is enforced through the power of the net.
Like the printing press which contributed to the end of the Middle Ages and led to the Renaissance, the Internet is leading us to a new era in the history of man. The difference between then and now, however, is that the power of the net is solidly in the hands of the people. Information is no longer the sole possession of the clergy, the nobility, the politicians, the corporations. The question is, will the traditional purveyors of the proverbial press, regain control of how information is distributed and in what form it will take, or will the liberation of minds that is the Internet prevails. The digital battle ground has been drawn and Net Neutrality is the prize.