Network Neutrality or Open Internet

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Network Neutrality

The principle of network neutrality, or the “open Internet,” mandates an impartial Internet framework comprised of information channels that provide a uniform service in their treatment and transmission of data packets [1]. In his study of the societal implications of the changing media landscape, Tim Wu coined this now household term to refer to the “21st century’s version of the common carriage,” the “vital infrastructure [that] rightly obliges one to carry the whole Internet, without discrimination, or favoritism, in accordance with one of the oldest assumptions of our legal tradition”[2]. In theory, the democratic opinions that inspired network neutrality coincide with Jeffersonian beliefs in pure outlets of information, unfiltered by manmade institutions [3]. The call for a “nondiscriminatory interconnectedness” in the Internet experience is key to providing users with a democratized database of information, while preventing the power of the Internet from becoming monopolized by media conglomerates [4].

Though the principle of network neutrality has found dedicated advocates in Internet content companies and special interest groups, recent years have seen a growing number of critics with an invested interest in manipulating information channels [5]. If net neutrality is the unbiased referee straining to maintain an even playing field, the telecommunications companies (Verizon and AT&T) are the wealthy players looking to bend the rules of the game to secure special privileges and a competitive advantage over their rivals [1]. Advocates of the open Internet argue that without the safeguard of a democratic framework, the Internet will become subject to mediation by “gatekeepers” of knowledge with the p...

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...[1] Siva, Lecture

[2] Wu, The Master Switch

[3] Vaidhyanathan, Siva. "Why Thomas Jefferson would Love Napster,", July 3, 2001.

[4] Lee, Discussion

[5] Pickard, V. W. & Meinrath, S.D. (2008). Transcending Net Neutrality: Ten Steps Towards an Open Internet. Journal of Internet Law, 12(6), 1, 12-21

[6] Anderson, Chris. “The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete.” Wired, June 23, 2008.

[7] Marwick, Status Update:

[9] Beyond Wikileaks: Beyond Wikileaks: Introduction through Chapter four; Chapters 12 through 16.

[10] Zuckerberg, Mark. Letter to Investors.

[11] Boyd, It's Complicated, Introduction, Chapter 1, Chapter 2.

[12] Baym, Personal Connections in the Digital Age, Chapters 1-3

Pledge: On my honor as a student, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this assignment. –Anna Tucker
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