Saturday, March 29, 2008

Framing Net Neutrality

I just presented at the Local Media, Democracy, & Justice Summit at Cal Tech today. Along with Media Alliance's Tracy Rosenberg, we discussed the issue of Network Neutrality and Digital Inclusion.

One part of the discussion went a point I often grapple with when it comes to issues that appear uber-technical at first glance, but in their essence, can be boiled down to simple values and language that is digestible to the average American.

The discussion was this: Why frame the debate using the moniker "Net Neutrality?"

I understand that with the issues involved, content discrimination, traffic shaping, and tiered access, we really do want networks that are "neutral." But there has to be a better way to frame this debate to enable the public to come to judgment. The public must come to judgment, and take some sort of stance/action, before Congress is to pass anything bearing resemblance to the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008, or its predecessor legislation.

Further, how do we build a united front on this issue when people are concerned, such as independent artists who want their content protected and not shared illegally over a file sharing application, with the prospect of a neutral net where no one is looking for what they feel is economically-crippling file sharing?

The problem is that the Commons movement does not have a united front. We cannot just assume all supporters share the same points of view when it comes to copyright, privacy, "net neutrality," and other issues that arise in the discussion on how we manage the Internet "commons."