A Threat to Internet Freedom
“Net neutrality” might be most boring phrase in the world but the lack of it has nationwide and negative implications – a threat to the Internet, as we know it, is looming over us.
Tim Wu, Professor of Columbia Law School, opens up by confessing that he never meant for the term “net neutrality” to be exciting, with jump cuts to John Oliver making fun of it by comparing two other words that promises more boredom, “featuring Sting.” John then quickly follows up with a more serious statement of how important it is and it’s meaning – for all data to be treated equally, regardless of who created it.
The electric grid has been an incredible platform for innovation. If one were to buy a new toaster to later find out that it doesn’t work because the electric company made a deal with all other toaster companies and not with the one recently purchased, that would be the equivalent affect of telecommunications networks treating data differently. If Verizon controlled the Internet, would Skype have been allowed? Imagine all the current innovations we enjoy on the Internet today and then imagine all the network owners saying, “No, that can’t be allowed on our network.”
With the 2008 election, the then candidate Barack Obama was regarded as the greatest hope to net neutrality and later took the Oath of office of the President of the United States (POTUS) in 2009 because of his ability to organize over the open Internet. Unfortunately, his hiring of Federal Communications Commission Chairman, Tom Wheeler, showed signs of someone who’s not quite in line with that vision. FCC Chairman Wheeler is leading the charge for creating a system where larger companies that are able to pay more can use the “fast lane” and everyone else would use in the slow lane.
Digital activist and journalist, Cory Doctorow, challenges the claim that telephone companies built their own private networks with their own money. He cites Manhattan as an example of costing trillions of dollars to dig up every street and pay for permission to go into every basement, using public subsidies over the course of many years, and believes that such subsidies should render public benefit. With telephone companies making 70, 80 and, in some reports, 97% margins, on the initial backing from public subsidies, is it fair for them to draw the line on public service and not deliver services like other utilities companies?
Director, Producer: Brian Knappenberger
Associate Producer: Liza Maddrey
Key Interviewees: Tim Wu, Lawrence Lessig, Jessica Gonzalez, Cory Doctorow, Josh Levy
Editors: Jason Decker, Brian Knappenberger
Composer: John Dragonetti
Sound Mix, Color Correction: Jason Decker