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Open Source

Network neutrality (or down with open source)

I had thought net neutrality to be a dying issue. But lo and behold, it has reared its nasty head in England this time.

Naturally, to someone like me, the whole net neutrality debate smacks, on an obvious level, of an Orwellian attempt at networks to control what we can and can't see and use. On a not so obvious level, it smacks of a combined effort to ensure that one, and only one, technology can dominate both the network and our desktops.

But that is plain conspiracy theory. Or is it?

To many, the idea of net neutrality is simply defined as a network without gatekeepers. A neutral network would allow all protocols, all hardware, and all software to interact without issue. A less-than-neutral net would squash some protocols, hardware, and software.

And to me, the idea of a non-neutral network stands to threaten the very existence of open source software. How? Simple. If the governments of the world (steadfastly governing with their hands in the pockets of the businesses who stand to profit from this) decide to stamp out net neutrality, the first thing they are going to want to regulate is the one thing they can't (easily) regulate: open source software. With that in mind, they simply have one of their parasitic corporations develop a easily regulated protocol that will not mesh with open source software. With that in check, open source software no longer is viable on the network. No more Apache servers. No more FireFox or Konqueror browsers. Without those things, any networkable software would have to come from one of the companies in league with the governments of the world. And who might that be?

Many of the neutral net critics proclaim that net neutrality confines growth and reduces incentive to upgrade networks or launch newer services. How is that? How is it that clamping down anything (as the critics would have done) would incite growth or progress?

That's like telling the auto industry, "If you put an additive in gasoline that only works with this new high-end sports cars, everyone will have to (and will) buy the new high-end sports car."

It's not hard to see through the veil of BS that is being handed out from the powers that be on both sides of the ocean. Net neutrality is nothing more than sales-rep spin that will only serve to choke the progress of open source software. It's hard enough with Microsoft churning out software that breaks standards in order to put the open source community behind. But if the governments decide to do away with net neutrality, open source software will find itself behind far more than Microsoft.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

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