Summary. The economic system isn’t a neutral one, so how can the Internet be? Or does anybody know an example of a multi-billion marketplace like the Internet that is accessible for free? I usually get in contact with some banks, landlords, and the like if I want to open my brick and mortar store somewhere or access any valuable resources. Even in the backmost corner of the forest every square meter is taken. Why should that work differently for online stores as these are turning over real money? Regulation of competition will, at best, only slow down the loss of Net Neutrality a bit. If we want an economy that’s letting us to neutrally participate rather than compete by financial means, we have to choose, for example, more the co-operative over the corporate legal form (http://ica.coop/en/what-co-operative). It’s not only about a handful of organizations deciding about the Internet though. Today, all economy (and life) is involved in and (partially) reflected by the virtual world too. Therefore, it is a fundamental political decision to take beyond just a specific and temporal protest.
It is important to put the urgent need for protesting against the threat to Net Neutrality into the context of the disease that is causing the symptom. It’s not about specific bad guys, evil organizations, or inadequate regulation only. It’s not about the President, the Network and Telecom companies, nor about Internet content providers; they are just doing their job, which is to generate profit. It’s about the economic system. The Internet is a competitive arena that is following the same principles of profit optimization, like all other markets that are determined by (big) corporations.
When did we the last time find some free land without a landlord protecting it from you freely using it? Why should that be different for the virtual space that has become a real exploitable resource too? When could we transport value across borders without taxes? Why should that be different for valuable data assets in the virtual world? Economic and nationalist interests will create stricter borders in the cyber world. Could one have believed that virtual identities and multi-billion dollar online businesses wouldn’t become the control target of the small monetary elite that is controlling the corporations and global finances overall? Everything is following capital principles as we have chosen this legal economic system. But there is a viable alternative (without having to resort to communism).
If we want a free, neutral association of people (e.g., users, employees, etc.) united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise (like the Internet is envisioned from a Net Neutrality perspective), then we have to stand up for co-operative values, which are following exactly those principles.
The cooperative legal form allows organizations to operate as multi-stakeholder and for-profit operations, and is owned and directed by all its involved member stakeholders (like you and me) rather than by some few unliable shareholders (http://ica.coop/en/what-co-operative).
Even with government regulation attempts it will not be avoidable that the current economic system will find the means to satisfy its needs for profit at the cost of the internet users rather sooner than later. Alternatives in the already vibrating cooperative economy are available and the next elections are coming. We have the choice.
See also article “We need to claim ownership for our virtual identity data.”