Net neutrality will soon be abolished in the United States. The open Internet, an important requirement for free information flow and innovation, will thus be sacrificed to big business — also much to the chagrin of German users.
At a first glance, the Federal Communications Commission’s plans do not sound very dramatic. It merely wants to allow a fast lane for the Internet, on which certain data packages can be transported faster than others, as long as someone pays for it. However, this would mean that one of the Internet’s main characteristics would be abolished: net neutrality. Up to now, it was not permitted to treat large corporations better than small companies or nongovernmental organizations. These days are now over in the United States. Cable and Internet service providers, which hope to achieve higher revenues and put competitors out of the market, are way too powerful.
It doesn’t appear to be very different in Europe. Communications companies consider net neutrality to be an obstacle to growth, and they are working hard on the European Union committees for them to approve a regulatory easement similar to the one in the United States. The open Internet, an important requirement for free information flow and innovation, will thus be sacrificed to big business. This, however, understates the Internet’s importance for society and community. The government cannot flinch from its responsibility — and accordingly needs to take over the expansion of broadband networks instead of leaving it to the corporate world.