As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of ethernet, it’s a good time to reflect on how this technology has connected the world in ways that were once only imagined in stories. However, amidst all the advancements, there is a fundamental aspect that ties everything together, known as net neutrality. Net neutrality is a set of principles that holds great importance in the policy landscape. It has been a recurring topic on The Verge, and it’s a story that continues as long as there are people connected to the internet. The internet cables that bind us also have a significant impact on human politics, analogous to the roads that have linked people for centuries.
The internet has become an incredibly diverse space, catering to various users’ needs. For some, it’s as simple as using the Facebook app on their phone. Others find entertainment in platforms like TikTok and Fortnite. And there are those who remember the days of Delphi forums and IRC chatrooms. Regardless of how each individual perceives the internet, its existence is made possible by a complex global infrastructure. In the early days, this infrastructure operated under the idea that all internet data should be treated equally. This means that internet service providers (ISPs) shouldn’t favor certain types of content over others. This principle is the essence of net neutrality, ensuring that users can freely access any website or service without discrimination.
However, as the internet evolved into a powerful economic force, internet service providers became more dominant, leading to a recurring pattern of greed. This sparked a fight for net neutrality, which involved a coalition of supporters who believed that the internet’s openness should be protected by law. On the other side were powerful interests that saw profit potential in controlling access to the internet. Unfortunately, in this battle, there were some innocent casualties who were unintentionally affected.
While progress may seem unstoppable, the truth is that even the best laws and regulations require ongoing maintenance. They need to be upheld and adapted by every generation. Recent years have shown us the importance of having collective faith in our institutions, and the internet is no exception. It’s more than just a network of tubes. Despite its flaws, the internet represents a hopeful belief that we can connect, learn, and grow together. This is what We stands for and why the fight for net neutrality is still worth it.