Past Event

Café Society: Network Neutrality: What Is It & Why Are So Many People Talking About It?

Currently, U.S. Congress holds the future of the Internet as we know it in its hands. The debate over “network neutrality” is a feud over how the Internet should be regulated. Those opposed to net neutrality legislation include large broadband providers such as AT&T, Verizon, BellSouth Corp., and Comcast. Their argument highlights the need for billions of dollars in upgrades to meet increasing technological demands and network traffic. Allowing network operators to charge certain clients more based on content would allow them to recoup the cost of these extensive upgrades.

On the other side of the table sit proponents of network neutrality: Google Inc., Yahoo Inc., eBay Inc., Inc., Microsoft Corp., along with the American Civil Liberties Union, Gun Owners of America, Christian Coalition of America, American Library Association, and Their major claim is that the free and open exchange of ideas gives the Internet its democratic foundation. Allowing providers to tier their rates, would put this democratic structure in jeopardy. Network neutrality regulations would ensure that all web sites are treated equally and not subject to fees or censorship by the corporate world.

Both sides argue that the other is not playing fairly. Additionally, each side claims that they are advocating not only for the best interests of the consumer, but have the First Amendment on their side. Is the issue of network neutrality a showdown between capitalism and democracy?

Those who will be affected are people who use the Internet to locate driving directions and weather forecasts, find a date for Saturday night, gather and share ideas, and find out the Café Society topic of the week. How would regulations (or the lack thereof) affect us? Will the current neutral nature of the Internet help or hinder its development as it becomes more central to modern life? If we want to preserve the democratic character of the internet, who will finance the infrastructure upgrades that the providers claim are necessary?

Join us this week at Café Society to share your thoughts on the future of the Web.

For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.