Lawrence Lessig: Net Neutrality

BRISTOL, R.I.__Lawrence Lessig spoke on Monday, February 23rd in the library at Roger Williams University.  He spoke extensively about network neutrality and how the network was created to be “stupid.” Network neutrality is the principle that internet service providers and government should allow access to all internet content and applications regardless of tlessighe source and without favoring or blocking specific websites or content.

Lessig elaborated on the fact that the network was created so that the user decides what wins and not the owner. So applications favored by users would be allowed because it was favorable.  So Lessig opened with a comparison of the direction the internet was moving whether or not it was going to become something like FOX news.

A question was asked how if the companies won out how they would infringe upon free speech. Lessig used an example of AT&T forbidding the band Pearl Jam from using their network to promote their event because the text message being sent was deemed “too political.” The argument that many companies use to back this up is the argument of free speech and that because it is their network it is like a newspaper and can be edited. However the internet was designed not to be like this.

I support Lessig in the sense that there should not be ownership over the internet and what content and applications get put on the internet.  With creative commons legal sharing is promoted and rights are still protected.  I think there should be some control but control should be minimal. The internet is open to everyone and we have the power to decide what content we use and access when we type in the search bar.

I believe that certain rules regarding harmful content or malicious content should absolutely be regulated; content that may promote harm.  But we already have that anyways. There are dozens of websites for multiple parties such as the Taliban the Ku Klux Klan and various extremist groups. is notorious for posting many videos with explicit content from all over the world but the thing is we as a people have the power to decide if we view it.

Early in Lessig’s speech he talked about the electrical grid in the sense that its open to all ideas however the access to the electrical grid is through a socket. If the ideas do not fit the socket then they will not make it on the grid. This principle is the same principle as

Lessig’s argument on the internet being controlled by companies. If the ideas do not comply with the wishes and rules of the companies then they will not fit the socket.

“The direction is open,” Lessig said. He explained as long as the network remains open it could go either way.  However Lessig believes that the system in its current state is the way it should remain. He discussed recent bills that are being voted on that would alter the internet’s state and have it become more of a remote control environment but thankfully he thinks those votes will not pass for some time.


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