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Net Neutrality

Tron Legacy Freedom of Information

Tron Legacy Freedom of Information

With the recent release this winter of the movie Tron: Legacy, I only saw it fitting to contrast some of the conflicting nature in the “Net Neutrality” bill that was recently passed by the FCC with the themes prevalent in Tron on the “freedom of information”.

Ironic, that a theme which the movie shares with its’ predecessor (the original Tron), decades before, would still be relevant today.

I don’t typically lean to only one side, and this recent bill, like many others has it’s pros and cons.

On the positive side, providers won’t be able to restrict access based solely on the context of content provided – such as a political and ethical debate like this one :). The premise of restriction in this case requires the content to conflict with legal standards before removal or limited access can be justified.

This differs based on the connection type (wired or wireless), but the realm of these two is likely to gradually converge.

On a negative note, the bill is contradictory. It does feasibly allow providers to restrict access to, or remove, content that is not paid for separately as a premium service. Therefore, visiting a site where you are receiving a free service (such as YouTube) may cost you more monthly since the provider can justify that your bandwidth usage is higher for this service (such as streaming video content).

This opens up the door for the provider to create and/or advertise services which compete with free ones, with the goal of profiting more at the consumer expense.

Although this profiteering aspect of the bill isn’t formally legislated, the legalities of the bill are vague enough in this case that they are open for interpretation by the providers.. In my opinion, this should have been more specific to regulate this type of monopolistic behavior.

Unfortunately, consumers cannot necessarily do anything about it. You can choose not to pay the providers at all, but if you do this you’re sacrificing other services which might be an essential part of your life. The internet in general is practically a necessity if you want to be successful in modern day America.

The solution? DIY LAN’s and WAN’s. :)

There are many small wireless networks now, and with not too much technical effort, these can easily be linked and bridged together. With a simple high amplified antenna (such as the cantenna for $40) you can bridge a wireless network with someone else very far away. Bridge a few of these networks together, and now you have a WAN.

The internet originally evolved from a series of WANs as well as funding by ARPA. Hopefully ACTUAL net neutrality – keeping the freedom of the internet – can be realized by this bill and others that may follow. However, if there is a dualist effect, allowing corporations to profit by other “freedoms” built into these bills, then we may find ourselves creating our own networks. Either way, I strongly believe the flow of information can be redirected, but never cut off.

References:
SaveTheInternet, http://www.savetheinternet.com/net-neutrality-101
Google, http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/search/label/Net%20Neutrality
Fox News, http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/12/21/need-care-net-neutrality/
NY Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/21/business/media/21fcc.html
IMDB, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084827/, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1104001/
Cantenna, http://www.cantenna.com/

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