Friday, September 15, 2006

Gamer's Guide to Politics: Net Neutrality

(Gamer's Guide to Politics is a weekly article about the most important real world political issues that impact the Gaming Industry, and the gamer communities, and what yours truly thinks we should do about it.)

Net Neutrality is or should be, one of the meta issues of any gamer's political philosophy, and a deciding factor in our decisions about who we support, or who we kick to the curb this election cycle. Democrat, Republican or Not-Interested, Liberal or Conservative, this is an issue that we all need to care about and more importantly, do something about.

So what is Net Neutrality, you ask?

Net Neutrality legislation would insure equality and equal access to the speed and flow of information on the Internet for all users and providers. It would prohibit cable and telecom providers from charging different rates to different providers for the same service of accessing and providing access to the Internet through their cable and phone lines. In short, Net Neutrality would preserve the very existence of the information super highway, as we know it today.

Here's the danger of life without net neutrality: Currently, an Internet service provider, or ISP, charges the companies whose sites it hosts, be they Google or Willamette Week, the same amount of money per byte that's transmitted. What Verizon, Qwest, BellSouth, Time Warner, SBC, Comcast and AT&T—the main supporters of the new telecom legislation and opponents of net neutrality—want is to charge content providers more for higher levels of service (Willamette Week Online).

So who cares if Google or The New York Times can pay a little more money to have priority access and higher load speeds, right? Any proponant of free speech, the free and equal dissemination of ideas, and preserving the sanctity of the Internet in its present state, should be outraged.

The primary issue at stake is the extent to which a fully deregulated Internet, as proposed in the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act of 2006, will have on our ability to access all forms of public opinion, media and content. What happens when Rupurt Murdoch, decides that his political views are more important than your right to access a myriad of political and social views? After MySpace parent, Intermix Media, was purchased by Murdoch's New Corp, unconfirmed reports began to sping up almost immediately of MySpace pages critical of Republican and conservative leaders were being shut down or regulated.

Ok, so some big companies could restrict the flow of information on the Internet, or prevent certain content from being available to consumers... I am a gamer, I kill dragons and /dance over the corpses of my slain enemys... What does this have to do with me?

Well, the Internet is the physical manifestation of our virtual homes. The cable and phone 'roadway' that links us, with the Existential World of our choosing, is under attack, and I for one, am not going to sit idle, while some newb company ganks my right to access that world! After they strip the Internet of all 'questionable' content by rendering it unviewable due to increasingly slower load times, who is to say they will not decide that Azeroth or Norrath are questionable content, and begin to squeeze our access as well? Blizzard and SOE could afford to pay the highest tier toll rates on access, but could indie game companies, or newly produced games that are barely able to afford to ship, let alone pay for the right to transmit their product?

Ok, now I'm pissed, but I'm just a pimple faced geek living in my parent's basement, who can barely get the Cheetos stains off my fingers... what could I possibly do about all this?

We have camped the same spawn for hours, in search of that one drop to round out our set... We have run the same grueling plane over and over flagging our guildmates to progress, we have grinded on the same damn mob for weeks to level, or farmed the same instance for gold and loot upgrades...

We are gamers, and when we want something bad enough, we can be persistant and we can be tireless in our single-minded pursuit of that goal. That is what we must do to insure that this assault on our virtual worlds does not go unpunished.

It's time to camp the Politician Spawn. We have to pwn these noobs for not supporting Net Neutrality. 53 days until the Mid-Term elections. Call your Congressional Leaders. Call your Governors office. Write them an email. Do it often. Let them know that no matter how great they are on such-and-such an issue, and what they may have done for our Country, being on the wrong side of this issue is going to get them voted out.

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