Until yesterday, I was a cyber optimist. But if net neutrality that Trump has repealed extends around the world, I can no longer be that. Ending net neutrality means wiping out its very essence and all the varying possibilities for creation and innovation. “Abolishing net neutrality is a threat to the internet that we have created with such effort,”* claims the letter from the pioneers of the internet. It is the U.S.’s intent to leave the rules for the internet, in a public and economic sense, in the hands of telecommunications operators.
The rules for internet access determine, for example, people’s opportunities to access information, the conditions to develop a true knowledgeable society or options for the internet to continue being an open innovative space. Those of us who defend ‘net neutrality,’ which is the status quo for the circulation of internet traffic, do so in order for the internet to continue being an open, equal platform. In physical communications, having a Mercedes or a Ford Fiesta doesn’t limit what roads you drive. Each person, on any path, freely decides where to drive and without restrictions. The government dictates traffic laws, not the dealerships. They can’t decide which brands of cars drive which routes.
The principle of equity
What does net neutrality entail? It means that any person or business that uses the internet does it based on the principle of equity and that each person decides what web pages or services they want to access through their devices. Can you imagine if Telefónica could decide that its basic users could only access Facebook and not Twitter? When Trump tries to cut freedoms, online control and manipulation, or the loss of net neutrality, Europe should become the leader in digital rights, abandoning its wavering role of recent years. Net neutrality should be part of digital rights of 21st century society.
Net neutrality is freedom for the internet. To lose neutrality is to lose freedom.
*Editor’s note: This quotation may be paraphrased from the following statement: “…to abolish net neutrality protections without any replacement is an imminent threat to the Internet we worked so hard to create.”