The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Network neutrality: The Internet’s saving grace

The debate over the Internet and network neutrality has proceeded all the way to Congress where, if the Internet Preservation Act of 2007 does not pass, it would limit people’s Web site choices and their entire Internet experience.

Considered the equivalent of First Amendment for the Internet by advocates and supporters, network neutrality gives the Internet the freedom it was created with. It allows users to choose their preferred Web site and content, establishing equal access to the Internet.

Without network neutrality only one type of search engine could be used, one community Web site viewed and the same blog read. This is just one example of what the future of the Internet may hold.

In 2006, Republicans rejected a network neutrality legislation introduced in the Senate by Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden to amend the Communications Act of 1934.

The amendment, which was supported by the Democratic Party, said Internet service providers are prohibited from discriminating or interfering with any access and use of services on the Internet. Telecommunication company giants have spent more than $100 million on campaigns, lawyers and advertisers to strip network neutrality off the Internet.

The FCC decided that communication service providers are prohibited to perform any interference against information services. In 2005, however, after several years of prominent communication companies trying to sue the FCC, the Supreme Court ruled in a hearing to allow companies to do as they please.

“They are driven to obtain a profitable position in the online market,” psychology major Julian Nasserian said. “Students frequently use search engine Web sites like Google.”

Nasserian is a Time Warner Broadband service subscriber.

“I’m an avid Internet surfer, but I don’t use Time Warner’s own search engines,” he said. Companies taxing web services like Google would be a huge disservice for fellow students, Nasserian said.

“Time Warner doesn’t need any more money,” he said.

Recent telecommunication business plans, such as those by Time Warner and AT’T, are looking to eliminate network neutrality. Internet service providers would like to tax service Web sites like Google and Yahoo to ensure the delivery of their data. It discriminates against other competitors in favor of the company’s own services.

“Telecommunication companies want to be the online gatekeepers,” Free Press communications director Craig Aaron said in a phone interview.

“The Internet should work as a meritocracy,” Aaron said. If network neutrality were abolished, eventually company executives would only approve online content delivered to subscribers by service providers, he said.

According to Aaron, Internet service providers can inspect and manipulate the data their subscribers view through a process called “deep-packet inspection.” The process directs and filters data through the web service traffic, allowing Internet service providers to manipulate the transmission of Web sites.

Jeff Chester, author of the media politics book “Digital Destiny,” said that communication companies see the Internet as a powerful and interactive advertising machine.

Chester, who is also the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy in Washington, D.C., said that the Internet evolved as an open network. “Lines were regulated by the government before and it’s unfortunate to see those lines blurring,” he said.

The legislation proposed by Wyden is still active in Congress as the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2007. A copy of the act is available online for download at, a non-profit coalition supporting network neutrality.

“Without network neutrality, the Internet we know now would no longer exist,” Aaron said.

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