Net Neutrality important? What about corporate neutrality?

I don’t talk a whole lot about my day job here. Some of my readers may know for whom I work, and some even work there with me (hi guys), and I don’t plan to say much beyond this post. It’s a good company, and I enjoy the work, the people and the other important part of working.

Today, I was taken completely aback because the company began implementing a major internet filtering policy, and I mean major. I’m still investigating the full scope, but here’s a taste:

  • YouTube, blocked.
  • MySpace (and pretty much any other social networking site out there), blocked.
  • Odeo, blocked.
  • Upcoming.org, blocked.
  • iTunes (at least podcasts), blocked.
  • Any type of streaming (flash audio/video, QuickTime, etc.), blocked.

Now for the good news. Apparently, straight mp3 files are fine to download, RSS feeds and BlogLines is safe, and for those interested in the social networking scene, the pets are still ok.

I’m sure the guys at TechDirt would have something insightful to say about this, linking to studies showing how internet use is not that big of a deal and actually helps employees be more productive. Unfortunately, the company is entitled to do whatever it wants, and if it feels it needs to do this to save bandwidth, protect its systems, and maintain efficient work flow, well they have the right. I just won’t get to send around any of funny YouTube videos, listen to internet radio, watch movie trailers, check out the latest in social media (I’m thinking the company doesn’t have much of interest in understanding or using social media), or easily listen to podcasts. And like with any filtering technology, it will block something that would help me perform my job better, and then I’ll have to submit a request to unblock it or just go without it. Not the end of the world, but still, it will be an inconvenience.

Why post this then? Well, it got me thinking, and I don’t claim this to terribly insightful, that maybe the whole Net Neutrality debate is not the biggest danger to the internet. Maybe when companies and schools start following this example and shutting their employees and students out (as the government is already working on), and since I’m guessing that’s where a lot of people use the internet most, that will be a huge hit to many web sites and communities? I’m thinking that wouldn’t be a good thing. What do you think?

Update
Added upcoming.org to the list. I can’t believe they blocked that one. Ridiculous.

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3 Replies to “Net Neutrality important? What about corporate neutrality?”

  1. I’m sorry your company took such extreme measure, was there a noticable drop in productivity? I work with the Hands Off the Internet coalition in opposing net neutrality and wanted to address what you describe as “corporate neutrality.” Contrary to what some net neutrality supporters claim, blocking access to websites isn’t what net neutrality is about. What would an ISP gain from blocking access to a website? This would only anger customers who would then switch to another provider or could seek action from the FCC or FTC. The ISPs don’t want to block access to any websites. That is simply bad business.

    Here is some information from my side of the argument that addresses some other misconcweptions surrounding this debate,

    http://www.netcompetition.org/docs/pronetcomp/debunking-myths.shtml

  2. Ahh, too funny, the netcompetition site is blocked. I’ll check it out this evening. I understand that net neutrality isn’t necessarily about blocking sites, but the general knowledge I have about it is that it will lead to either a) more expensive and/or b) degraded internet access, which indirectly means that running a successful internet business will become more challenging. I agree, they are not the same, but I was equating corporations/schools blocking access as an equal challenge to overcome for internet businesses.

  3. Ryan, I obviously misunderstood your argument but, I have seen many people who think that access is the main issue in the net neutrality. I agree that it will be interesting to see how debate over companies/schools blocking access to websites evolves.

    Regarding the cost issue, the telcos believe that the large content providers who use most of the bandwidth should pay more than they currenlty are thus saving the consumers from bearing the cost of infrastrucure upgrades. So now the average internet user is subsidizing the bandwidth hogs.

    From what I understand nobody will receive degraded access. Everything will move faster not slower. Plus, we already have search engines giving preferential treatment in search results to websites or “sponsored links” that pay them the most money for top placement. Small businesses still exist and that just seems like competition.

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