Freedom of speech, knowledge, and net neutrality

Is freedom of speech and knowledge transference going to be helped or hurt by the abolition of net neutrality? Net neutrality means everything gets the same priority without extra charges over the usual provider access charges. Its loss would mean priority would come with a charge.

The providers of massive video services such as Netflix and Youtube (Google) would like to have equal priority without having to pay extra. Their argument is that ordinary users with simple written websites would have less priority if Netflix was paying for priority. The fallacy of their misleading argument is that for-profit video services (think Youtube ads) are using up half the internet bandwidth for free, and usually not for freedom of speech content or knowledge content, but for entertainment. If they were to pay for their bandwidth, hopefully by the size of their files, they would have to charge for it, and their use of the available bandwidth would decrease. This would actually allow users for reading opinions or knowledge articles easier access, still for free. Netflix is really not arguing for the freedom of speech rights on the internet, but to avoid raising rates for its users.

Netflix and Youtube can of course spend small amounts of money to buy great influence in Congress, so it is unlikely that net neutrality will be abolished. They only need to spend a fraction of a percent of possible priority charges to influence Congressmen. The companies of course can spend as much as they want in PACS, since they are “people”.

Of course, if your main interest in the internet is to watch Netflix, you should consider that you are not getting a bargain for a pay like channel for about $7 a month, when you consider that you may be paying $45 a month for cable internet access. Also, the movie offerings on Netflix are hardly the latest or most popular movies shown on cable channels.

About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
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