Essays on Technology and Culture

Toll Booths on the Sidewalk

The aim of net neutrality is to preserve the Internet as the crucial open sidewalk for communication that it has become. The reason that the Chinese, Russian and Cuban governments fear an open Internet more than anything else is that it allows users to gather and speak to one another. But users of a walled-garden “zero-rated” Internet can’t even click links that go outside the garden. And they certainly won’t be launching their own apps. Linking and building are the fundamental attributes of the Internet — innovation and speech without permission — that must not be compromised away.

Less than Zero — Backchannel — Medium

Net Neutrality has to go both ways. Limiting who can get to the consumer, and limiting what the consumer can get to through paid tiers is dangerous, and Susan Crawford makes a great point. For someone new to the idea of the Internet, the other half of the digital divide, if they can’t get past their provider’s free, walled garden without paying, will they bother trying?

Before you answer, check how many free versus paid apps move units in mobile app stores.