Category Archives: Net Neutrality

The newest net neutrality twist

radio_microphone 507px-Wireless_tower.svgI am a devoted fan of On The Media on WNYC. This week host Brook Gladstone and Siva Vaidhyanathan, chair of media studies at the University of Virginia and author of The Googlization of Everything (and why we should worry) presented an excellent overview of the court decision on net neutrality (here is a post from Freepress.net on what net neutrality really means).

There are some definitions, but this piece on OTM was an excellent summary of the history, the mistakes (FCC’s), and the future. Vaidhyanathan calls these 20-or-so years we’ve had a bit of a nirvana. Here’s the whole piece: Net Neutrality and You.

In 2010 he said (also on OTM)

“If we decide that the only level playing field is that wire coming out of the wall into our personal computer, we might find that we’ve relegated all the freedom in the world to  the 8-track-tape deck in the next 20 years and that could be a terrible mistake.” 

Reminds me of the establishment of the Radio Act of 1927. In the 20s there was an open season on radio waves in this country — it was the Wild West back then when anyone could throw up an antennae and broadcast. It didn’t matter whether your signal ran over someone else’s signal – it was a bit of mayhem. The establishment of the FRC (precursor to the FCC) help regulate the airwaves and put together some rules of the road on what is (still) considered a public resource. Frequency space is limited and the “air” on which all of those signals float is ours — at least here in the U.S.

As Vaidhyanathan points out, we might have enjoyed a “blip” when it comes to “internet freedoms.” Just as when radio (and then other broadcast) grew and a few dominated the media (think networks and station owners), connectivity is heading toward more control, not less. 

The whole piece is worth a listen, but here’s another great excerpt:

“What Google thinks is important is what we think is important.”…..

In reference to “hopefulness” about the future of a platform that allows all voices to be heard?….

“In a democratic republic we have a responsibility to be open about what could be and keep fighting for it.”