The internet is a medium of freedom. To prevent digital anarchy, the government does have certain laws pertaining to the world wide web. However, applying legal doctrines to the international communication tool is like trying to herd cats. Legislations are often unable to define the problem it is trying to solve and so internet users’ rights get swept up as well. In the past, politicians have attempted to enact legislations called SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act ) and PIPA (PROTECT IP Act: Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act) both tried and failed to regulate the internet in order to prevent copyrighted material from circulating illegally (Forbes.com). The Bills were struck down due to flaws that would “reduce freedom of expression, increase cybersecurity risk, or undermine the dynamic, innovative global Internet.” The bills would have made watching licensed videos without permission through YouTube a felony offense. (Forbes.com). Opponents argued these bills would essentially censor the internet. Currently, there is another bill that could indirectly censor the internet.
The Obama Administration supports the idea of net neutrality. Even big corporations that could potentially benefit from eliminating net neutrality--like Google or Netflix-- support maintaining net neutrality. The only parties against the new legislation are ISPs, perhaps because they would profit most if net neutrality was disrupted and the internet became “closed.” Companies such as Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Time-Warner Cable all would profit from charging extra fees to internet content providers in order for their content to reach users. In fact, Netflix ran into an issue with Comcast recently. The internet service provider demanded payment from Netflix in order to deliver the movies and television shows to users. When Netflix declined, Comcast slowed down Netflix’s streaming speed (see graph below). Comcast strong-armed Netflix into agreeing to pay for fast internet (Washingtonpost.com). Imagine if all service providers did the same thing, but not just for Netflix, but for all content providers. Internet users would only see content from companies and individuals who had the money to pay for its delivery - a form of internet censorship.