I’ve written about Net Neutrality before in the Understanding the Effects of Net Neutrality on Web Programmers post. The post described how Net Neutrality affects developers in particular and made a passing reference to its effect on other users as well. The issues haven’t really changed. Enforcing Net Neutrality could mean free and equal access to the Internet by everyone who needs to use it, but nothing I’ve seen so far really defines what the government means by free or equal. I have concerns that some high priority needs, such as medical or real time communications, will suffer under Net Neutrality. However, the longer I think about the issue, the more I come to realize that some form of Net Neutrality is essential to the health of the Internet as we know it now. In addition, most medical posts I’ve read favor Net Neutrality as being essentially good for patient access to healthcare needs.
A number of things have happened since that post. The most notable is that Net Neutrality has become an issue of Democrats versus Republicans, rather than an honest effort to provide the sort of service that everyone wants. As I predicted, the whole matter ended up in the courts where an appeals court has decided to allow the FCC to implement the Net Neutrality rules. To counteract the court decision, House Republicans have added riders to a must pass bill to fund the government that affects the FCC’s ability to enforce Net Neutrality rules. Apparently, the cable companies have called in the favors they provided politicians in the form of campaign contributions. The Republicans are taking this action despite evidence that most people support Net Neutrality regardless of political identity.
The whole Net Neutrality issue has taken a new direction—one that is becoming all too familiar to Americans. One side, the Democrats in this case, choose to champion an issue and the other side, the Republicans in this case, decide against it. Our legislators seem determined to waste time and energy fighting with each other, rather than accomplish anything resembling real work. In the middle of it all are companies offering money—paying legislators to do their bidding. In this case, the people are on the losing side of the equation. Everything I’ve read tells me that this is a situation where the government really doesn’t care what the people want—it’s all about the money.
Of course, there is a group of people who are caught in the middle of all this—application developers. Actually, anyone responsible for ensuring content moves on the Internet is caught in this current decision to do anything but act responsibly on the part of the government. It isn’t possible to create applications that perform well when you don’t know how the communications used to transfer the data will work. Until the government gets its act together, developers and other IT professionals will simply have to take their best guess as to how to make applications perform well and that hurts everyone. Let me know your thoughts about Net Neutrality and the developer at [email protected].