It’s been quite of an year for Net Neutrality. Blogs, newspapers and other media talked a lot about that in the last months. But what are they really talking about? Let’s make a quick recap. The term Net Neutrality was firstly coined by Tim Wu in 2003, expanding the already existing concept of common carrier.
Wikipedia defines it as «the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication». But the term Net Neutrality does not just label the principle we just described. In the last years this term has been used to identify a real and going-on discussion in the US.
What’s happening in the US? Why professors, computer scientists and CEOs affirm to be contrary on its application as a law? Rules created in 2010 by the Federal Communications Commission were struck down by the US courts after a lawsuit filed by Verizon, one of the biggest Internet Service Providers (from now on ISPs). This gap potentially allows ISPs to treat customers differently depending on how much they pay, leading to the so-called Two-speed Internet. Many protesters are pushing FCC to reclassify ISPs as common carriers, referring to the Title II and section 706 of the Communication Act; others state that Title II would slow down progress across the Internet.
The oddest fact is that no-one, from ISPs to Congressmen, seems to be adverse to the principle of network neutrality: everyone agrees with that. What is the discussion about then? Internet is going to be more and more crowded, and OTT companies such as Google and Netflix offer services increasingly expensive in terms of bandwidth: according to Goldman Sachs, the Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to connect ten times as many "things" to the internet by 2020, ranging from bracelets to cars. Who’s gonna pay to improve the backbone?
ISPs, Politics, Content Providers and all other media: everyone is involved into the debate, with their own interests and beliefs. How do the terms of the #NetNeutrality debate change depending on these players? We used the Digital Methods to observe them.