Okay, Yes… The rumors abound suggesting our great Internet, as we know it today, is going the way of the Dodo. We could get on that boat and talk about the end of the Mayan calendar and the Nostradamus’s predictions too, or we can take a more sober approach and look at this issue not hysterically, but in an informed and logical way!

First, I’ll acknowledge the threat is real. Certain large corporations would love to become even larger and not only control our Internet access, but charge us for that “service” in the name of protecting our children from danger and impropriety and saving us adults from viruses and identity theft. Can’t happen you say? I’m telling you it can… Check out this little beauty that was, well, leaked from a supposed large, well, known marketing company about a month ago and is now making its way around the still free Internet (click the image to get the full-sized version):

As an analogy, think about way back when T.V. was free, and there was nothing you bought with that TV except, maybe an antenna. There were only a few channels on the air, though as time went on, more became available—for free. Now I pay somewhere around $130 a month now for HDTVs with satellite connections and a package of about 500 channels. Times have indeed changed… This was unfathomable 20, maybe even 10 years ago, and if I’m not mistaken, coming right up in 2009, there will be no longer be any free TV (analog signals) at all!

So what does this have to do with the Internet? A lot…Most people were getting onto the Internet in the mid 90’s, with many more going online into the late 90’s. Some people still weren’t on the Internet until the 2000s or so, but now, pretty much everyone is. Many of us absolutely need to be online simply to work. How did that happen? Well, let’s look at how this all progressed… First we paid the telephone co. for dial up, and then moved up to some broadband provider, and then, hmmmm… Now you can get one company to provide phone, video and data services…aha! Now we’re talking. Can you see where I’m going with this?

So, yes, theoretically, your Internet access could become controlled by your ISP and /or large corporations selling access packages at different levels/plans depending on your need/desire for access to get to various sites. But it may not turn out that we’re all doomed to this ugly fate. I’ll back the fact that the issue of preserving Net Neutrality is very real, but know that it’s has own league of Big Business behind preserving it! Google, for one, is developing free tools to enable big cable company’s customers to detect when their connections have been throttled, or when their access has been modified in any way. I’ll provide a link to an article detailing all this that came out June 15th in a bit, but for now, to quell your fears I want you to know that there’s a ton of effort happening right now to get laws passed that will block cable companies from this kind of censorship.

The F.C.C. itself has promised to take a serious look into charges that big-time cable and other large companies are planning to attempt an access heist on us. The article also mentions that in May there was a bill re-introduced to Congress asking to redraft the present U.S. Antitrust laws with language that would prevent network operators such as Comcast and AT&T from, I quote, “blocking, impairing, or discriminating against ‘lawful’ Internet content, applications and services, or from charging extra fees for ‘prioritization or enhanced quality of service.” End quote.

So, while plans for an access controlled, “pay per view” Internet may well be being laid, and the threat against Net Neutrality is definitely genuine, to me there’s a distinct possibility—even probability—that Net Neutrality will come out the winner! Check out the links below to the articles I mentioned and quoted and let me know what you think:

Google prepping broadband-monitoring tools
FCC: We’ll investigate Comcast-BitTorrent flap
Democrats revive another Net neutrality proposal