Good, Bad or Neither? Can the Net be neutral?

Interesting article in the Observer again about net neutrality sparked a discussion about how useful the internet is. Is it a force for good or evil?

Net neutrality isn’t about good and evil of course, it is about whether businesses should be able to buy internet which delivers faster; the question for me as a small business owner is what happens if you don’t buy faster, or even can’t buy faster. Will our connections become in some way second rate. Superfast broadband isn’t available everywhere, without going into whether we would use it or could afford it.

Our discussion roamed around about “free” internet, and freedom of the internet. Of course nothing is free, you just don’t always notice that you are paying for it. The first use of the internet I came across was in the late 80s, a friend was able to email his daughter who lived in the States from his London home. I was dead impressed. She was a university lecturer and he was a retired university lecturer, and I guess that they were using dialup, so it would have been incredibly slow, but was it free?

Broadband and 3G or 4G (also not available here) have widened access and thus use. And this is clearly both a good thing and a bad thing, and often ambiguous. Clearly using the internet to access a virtual reception serve is a very good thing. And the diaries we use, from google to the high end practice management software are completely reliant on the internet. This business would never have been possible without it. But….most of my email is spam, I am constantly aware of intrusive advertising and fearful of giving out my credit card details. Then again, I can buy goods, flights, holidays which I couldn’t buy, and as the “shop” has been eliminated it is usually cheaper.

On a more altruistic note we are not far from a situation where for example an elderly person can wear a wrist band that monitors their health, exercise levels and food intake, and could order a food delivery for them based on what is in the fridge. This would be cheaper and could be more efficient than sending in a carer everyday, but would be both lonelier and intrusive.

This could be very long ramble so I will bring it to a conclusion here, which is that it can be both, used by Medicins sans Frontieres and by Boko Haram…? And as nothing is really free, we already pay for internet accessand I am sure we will pay more for faster as a business; will I pay more for faster at home? I think I am already doing that to access BT sport, Virgin or Sky. So the net is not neutral anyway.

But let me know what you think.