People are talking about net neutrality in the US again, and I wanted to share my thoughts on the subject, because I think it is more nuanced than others would lead us to believe.
I'm not an expert, so take my thoughts with a hefty bucketful of salt. I'll keep it short.
Many are fearful that if the idea of net neutrality is removed by law, then ISP's in the US will be free to censor, throttle, and basically destroy everything good about the open internet.
The nightmare scenario would be living in an area where there are only 1 or 2 ISPs, and both of them price gouge for access to the open web. Many people might not be able to afford this, and they'd be left with crappy lower tier, throttled internet. That would obviously suck.
I think many people are missing the point of WHY the situation is like that in the first place though. Local and federal governments are the ones who cause this to happen. They are the ones who sign exclusivity deals with ISPs to lay down fibre in cities and towns. They are also the ones who allow or disallow businesses to use certain airwaves to transmit data. They say who can and can't launch and use communication satellites in specific geographies. All this is important to internet infrastructure.
In an ideal situation, anyone (including you and your community) would easily be able to set up a rival ISP and compete, offering an equal or cheaper price for the open web. People would flock to it in droves.
So I think we've been tricked by a slight of hand move. They are the ones who caused the problem, by enabling the monopolies, yet they're also the ones people are asking to save it. That doesn't make sense to me.
It goes without saying that access to an open internet is extremely important, but I think we're not seeing the bigger picture here.
IS THERE A SOLUTION?
I don't like the idea of begging politicians to help save the internet. That is a slave mindset. We need some of that Satoshi mindset if you ask me.
What we could do is seriously start developing, funding and promoting alternative networks that side step all this nonsense. Both with software, and physical infrastructure. If you have the skills, you should be involved.
As an example, almost everyone already carries a network connected computer that's capable of acting like a node in a mesh network in their pockets, and we need to utilize that capability. Maybe couple that with cryptocurrency micropayments to incentivize sharing of bandwidth and resources, and you could be onto something.
Besides that, I don't exactly know what that would look like yet. With that said, you can be sure that IF things do start going down a bad path, there are many smart people who will be very motivated if their freedoms are seriously in danger of being taken away.
They say necessity is the mother of all invention, and I am confident that if people were backed into a corner, and forced to get creative, I think they would do just that. There would be just too many people motivated to make it happen. Think of all the geniuses in silicon valley who would turn their attention to solving that problem.
So in closing, an open internet is extremely important, but I think we need to look inward on how we can make it happen. We need an open internet, but we probably need to build a new one to achieve it. Maybe one of you watching this will be the person to make that breakthrough, allowing us not to rely so heavily on ISPs. That's my hope anyway.