Some folks are wise and some are otherwise. -Tobias Smollett
Question #79150 posted on 09/17/2014 5:42 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

As far as I can tell net neutrality is a) a really good thing and b) unrelated to internet pornography. I still wanted to ask though: if net neutrality passes, will we still be able to make laws regulating (or in a perfect world, eliminating) pornography sites? How do these two things related? Also, are there any good arguments against net neutrality?

Thanks,
kal

A:

Dear Jor,

I'm going to keep this really simple and short because there's a lot of information out there and it can get confusing.

Net neutrality is at its core the idea that all Internet traffic should be treated equally. This has been the de facto policy of the web for many years until recently when ISPs realized that they could charge websites for "priority traffic" and if they didn't pay the fee they would get slowed down. You know, kind of like how the mob charges people for protection money. Basically companies like Comcast have a river that flows to all the different websites like Netflix or Google and if Netflix doesn't pay their protection money Comcast will put a dam on Netflix's branch of the river.

Then there's the question on everyone's mind: What about porn? Will we still be able to regulate it? It's a difficult legal issue and the thing is we don't really know how it would affect porn. We never had to have a law telling companies "Hey, don't be greedy and evil with the Internet" before so it's uncertain how the law will be phrased. If it's passed and says that Comcast just has to stop building dams then surely we'll still be able to regulate the Internet. I mean, no one's going to argue against banning child pornography (well, very few people will). In theory we could still ban pornography (and certainly will still have age restrictions on its access) but Comcast just couldn't throttle the traffic going to pornographic websites while it is still legal.

In case you can't tell, I'm very biased on this issue so I would say no, there are not good arguments against net neutrality unless you're Brian L. Roberts. Of course, the "but it's stopping us from making exorbitant amounts of money" argument is very rarely used in court (unless you're a Libertarian, I guess?) so the people with lots of money in their pockets have put money in the pockets of lawyers to ensure that they can keep putting more money in their pockets. The arguments I've seen seem to stem from the same ambiguity as the pornography question and try to argue that net neutrality would stifle innovation or prevent ISPs from filtering spam, both of which seem like they could be moot depending on how the law is phrased.

-M.O.D.A.Q.

A:

Dear Kaladin, 

See also Board Question 76877 for more Board opinions on net neutrality.

Good day, eh.

–Concealocanth