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Net Neutrality

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By samiu55
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One of the most aggressive and fast growing commodity in today’s world without a doubt is the internet. It’s truly amazing how we can achieve what we want with just a click of a button. A business man can gain all the market knowledge while sitting in his office, students can access thousands of documents they wish to research on unlike earlier times when they had to physically go through hundreds of books. It’s true that the internet has made a huge impact on our lives and has made us more accessible. But is this impact considered to be good or is it bad? Most people would argue it is certainly a positive impact on mankind, but just like every coin has two sides the internet also portrays both the sides. Internet is certainly a blessing in many ways but at times it can become a curse too. This concern gives birth to governance of the internet. “Internet governance is a broad term used in many different contexts, applying to activities as diverse as coordination of technical standards, operation of critical infrastructure, development, regulation, and legislation, among others” (1). Issues like child pornography, identity theft and criminal activities are just few of the major reasons for internet to be controlled. The best way to govern it would be by placing certain restrictions over it and denying access to certain web pages, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. With placing restrictions on the internet another major issue arises that of net neutrality. What is net neutrality? , The term net neutrality means that the users should have the full access to the internet and they should have the full authority to decide what to view and what not to view rather than the service providing companies (Sutherland, 2010) (2).
With Net neutrality as our main perspective we can discuss the deontologist and utilitarian side of it. The principle of deontologist states that the moral worth of a cause is independent of the consequences resulting due to it. It also states that the most important act is to adhere to the duties and nothing else (Boulos, 2008) (3). In other words for our every decision we have a reason and what is more important is to go ahead with it if it is based on our duties and principals. This is the theory of Kant which is applied universally. If we apply Kant’s theory to net neutrality then we come up with the result that the basic duty of the internet providing companies is to provide internet to its user. This service has to be provided to all the users equally without a biased approach. The consequences of doing so are irrelevant as the companies are adhering to their primary duty of proving access to internet without any restrictions. Many cases regarding net neutrality are recently being published in main stream media. One of such cases is the case regarding the downloading speed provided by Rogers for peer to peer applications. Rogers was recently accused of slowing down the downloading speed by its users. A legal was filed and is undergoing trial. The users feel that the company should stick to their promise of providing a certain speed for which both parties agreed upon. The customers feel cheated when they do not receive what they pay for. The principle here being violated is that of restricting the speed of the internet without the knowledge of the users (Pinto, 2011) (4).
The other side of net neutrality is the utilitarian side. This is the counter of the deontologist side and came into existence after several years it. According to Boulos “utilitarian would advocate that the morally right act is the one that maximizes the greatest good for the greatest number” ( Boulos, 2008). In other words we should always think about the consequences of our actions as it could have adverse effect on a number of people. It is not always important to follow the path of principles and duties. If we feel our actions might negatively affect other people then we should avoid it even though it is correct according to our duties and principles. We can argue here about the certain restriction of content like that of pornography and sensitive political issues on the internet by certain authorities. In 2006 when Google was launching itself broadly in China, it had to put certain restrictions over its search engine, e-mail and online chat services. “The authorities at Beijing demanded Google to place restriction on topics likely to include independence of Taiwan and the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. They also wanted restrictions to be placed over e-mail, chat room and blogging services because of concerns the government could demand users' personal information”(“Google censors itself”, 2006) (5).This clearly portraits the utilitarian side of the net neutrality.
Personally I also agree to have a utilitarian approach towards the net neutrality case. Certain cultures in the world are orthodox to a certain extent in regards to sexual content being openly published on the internet. So the authorities of such countries place restrictions over it which according to me is absolutely justifiable. It is better to restrict such publications rather than hurting the feelings of hundreds and thousands of its citizens. Similarly placing certain rules and restrictions over the content on the internet authorities can also reduce identity thefts and other criminal thefts.

References: (1) http://www.isoc.org/pubpolpillar/governance/ (2) Sutherland, J. (2010). What is net neutrality? Retrieved from: http://www.suite101.com/content/what-is-net-neutrality-a271643 (3) Boulos, P. (2008): Understanding Cyber Ethics in a Cyber World. (4) http://www.straight.com/article-369002/vancouver/lindsey-pinto-case-net-neutrality-canada (5) Google censors itself for China. (2006), Retrieved from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4645596.stm

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